EuroAvionics is at Heli-Expo’13 celebrating 20 years since its founding in 1993. Since then it has become established as a key supplier of cockpit avionics enhancement packages for special-mission helicopters and military aircraft. The company is exhibiting (Booth No. C3930) next to U.S. partner LCX Systems, which serves the Americas market from its base in Sarasota, Fla.
AgustaWestland announced the AW149 program in 2006 and the 8.6-ton helicopter made its first flight in 2009. Based on the successful AW139 medium twin, the 149 is a military variant that is 12 feet longer, four feet taller, 5,000 pounds heavier (mtow), has a slightly larger main rotor disk and a pair of more powerful, Fadec-controlled GE CT7-2E1 turboshafts (2,000 shp each) that give the helicopter good high/hot performance and satisfy the 6,000-foot, 95-degree F OGE standard.
AgustaWestland acquired the portion of the 609 program it did not already own from Bell Helicopter in 2011, effectively dissolving the joint venture known as the Bell Agusta Aircraft Co. The 609 program is headquartered at a new AgustaWestland facility in Arlington, Texas, across the field from its previous home at Bell’s XworX. The aircraft are to be certified initially by the FAA in the U.S. under Parts 25 and 29 and a new category called powered lift.
AgustaWestland has said it expects to be cleared of bribery allegations relating to an Indian government order for 12 AW101 VIP helicopters. At press time, the Italian-UK joint venture was responding to questions from the Indian defense ministry in relation to a “show cause notice” that could result in the cancellation of the $750 million contract. It had until February 22 to answer these questions.
On Thursday, Finmeccanica’s board nominated Daniele Romiti as the new CEO of subsidiary AgustaWestland, replacing Bruno Spagnolini. Romiti, who was promoted from COO, has since been endorsed for the position by AgustaWestland’s own board. Spagnolini and Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of AW parent Finmeccanica, were arrested February 12 as part of an ongoing bribery investigation involving the sale of 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the government of India.
The Indian government has begun the process to cancel its contract with AgustaWestland (AW) for 12 AW101 VIP transport helicopters.
Italian police arrested the current and former CEOs of AgustaWestland on bribery charges this morning and raided the company’s Milan headquarters. Giuseppe Orsi, who served as the helicopter manufacturer’s CEO until December 2011 and is currently head of its parent company, Finmeccanica, was taken into custody, while current AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini was placed under house arrest.
Neelam Mathews and Vladimir Karnozov contributed to this report.
Helicopters were much in the news at the Aero India show this week. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) showed the armed version of its advanced light helicopter (ALH) called “Rudra.” The company’s light combat helicopter (LCH) was also on show, and so was an armed Mil-17V5. The Indian Navy’s new multi-role helicopter (MRH) requirement also attracted attention.
AgustaWestland has chosen Thales’s Flash Compact range of dipping sonars to equip Lynx helicopters for export markets. According to Thales, the lightweight sonars, featuring a fully electric reeling machine, allow smaller helicopters to have high-performance sonar capability for anti-submarine warfare.
AgustaWestland is making a new push into South America. The Italian helicopter maker, part of the defense and industrial conglomerate Finmeccanica, signed a memorandum of understanding on January 21 to establish a joint venture with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to build AgustaWestland helicopters in Brazil for both the domestic and regional military and civilian markets.