AgustaWestland last month announced that its sales in India are growing, with seven deliveries last year (not all new rotorcraft), four planned this year and another 12 over the 2008-2009 period. In addition, Hindustan Construction has ordered a second Bell/Agusta BA609 Tiltrotor. Hong-Kong-based Sharp Ocean is now AgustaWestland’s distributor for India, Sri Lanka and The Maldives.
Bell Helicopter yesterday revealed it has discontinued the 417 development project, announced with much fanfare at last year’s Heli-Expo, where the company took deposits for 136 copies of the aircraft, which was based on the popular 407. Another point of discussion at this year’s event, held in Orlando, Fla., was Bell’s recent shakeup at the top.
Max-Viz is at Heli-Expo Booth No. 1469 to spread the word about its eight recently completed or in-progress enhanced vision system (EVS) STC programs for helicopters.
On October 29, AgustaWestland introduced the A119 Koala at its new home in Philadelphia, which includes 43,000 sq ft of hangars, avionics bays, manufacturing and completion space. The new facility, which hugs the suburban Northeast Philadelphia Airport, was built in a record seven months for $6.8 million, while employees trained in Vergiate, Italy. Total investment, including relocation, will exceed $12 million.
Bell/Agusta AB139s seem to be headed far and wide at the moment. Deliveries of the new medium twin to the Namibian government and, most recently, to philanthropist the Aga Khan (see sidebar) are recent milestones, as the companies announce orders from Canada, New Zealand and the U.S. (The U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater order for up to 35 aircraft was a particular coup.) At press time, Bell/Agusta reported orders for more than 80 aircraft.
Development of AgustaWestland’s new A109S Grand is on schedule, with two test aircraft already achieving their performance targets, according to the Italian manufacturer. AgustaWestland has received deposits for more than 20 copies of the growth version of the A109 Power, with certification and first deliveries scheduled for the second half of next year.
You might call Heli-Expo 2005 a triumph for Bell/Agusta Aerospace and particularly for the AB139. In the period covering European certification in 2003, FAA IFR authorization in December and last month’s show, eight AB139s have been handed over to customers, for use in roles ranging from VIP to air ambulance and a wide range of environments. Twenty-six more were ordered in Anaheim last month.
Hickok & Associates of Orange Beach, Ala., has developed a network of 19 GPS approaches to hospitals in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for aeromedical operator CareFlite of Grand Prairie, Texas. Ray Dauphinais, vice president of operations for CareFlite, told AIN that Steve Hickok, president of Hickok & Associates, has submitted the approaches to the FAA and is hoping for approval before next winter.
The industry gears up for its annual group hug, this year back in Las Vegas (March 15 to 17) against a backdrop of decent sales figures for new civil helicopters over the past year and a forecast of modest growth over the next eight. According to Bill Dane, senior analyst at Forecast International, between 2003 and 2012 projected deliveries are 9,500 helicopters valued at $19 billion.
Following the first Bell/Agusta AB139 delivery to Helilario, production is now ramping up to meet deliveries to international customers later this year. The company said it already has a “sizable” order book for the helicopter, corresponding to two years of production. Preparation of AB139 customer-support and training activities is on target to meet introduction-into-service dates.