If sales are the standard by which the success of an aviation trade show is measured, Heli-Expo 2006 will go down as an unqualified triumph, with announced helicopter sales contracts tallying more than $620 million among all the major manufacturers.
As the band began to pack away its instruments yesterday afternoon, the AgustaWestland contingent was still dancing in the aisles on the news of 57 helicopter sales totaling more than $341 million.
On the opening day of the show, AgustaWestland’s parent, the Finmeccanica company, inked a contract with Japan’s Mitsui Bussan Aerospace of Tokyo for 12 AW139s, with deliveries beginning next year.
But the bulk of its sales came yesterday on the back of a four-year contract with UK-based sales distributor Sloane Helicopters that calls for delivery of 44 helicopters of various models over the next four years. The deal allows Sloane to market and sell the entire AgustaWestland civil market product line in Europe. Deliveries of the first 10 helicopters will begin later this year. While Sloane will continue to focus on the corporate market, it also expects to expand its share of emergency medical service and law enforcement sales.
Also yesterday, AgustaWestland signed a contract with heli-ski specialist Skyline Helicopters of Terrace, British Columbia, for an A119 Koala. The Canadian operator plans to put the new Koala to use in geo-seismic assessment, research and ski missions.
Eurocopter executives were doing their own happy dance, to the tune of 32 aircraft sales announced at Heli-Expo, valued at $207 million. Three EMS operators signed deals here: CJ Systems Aviation Group of West Mifflin, Pa., ordered 10 EC 135s; Air Methods of Englewood, Colo., ordered 15 EC 135s; and Omniflight of Addison, Texas, ordered three AS 350B2s.
Era Helicopters, a Seacor company with bases in Louisiana and Alaska, ordered two EC 225s for its offshore oil rig services business. Air Kauai, an air tour operator in Hawaii, ordered one AS 350B2. Finally, a private operator in Las Vegas doing business as Temple Aviation, ordered the company’s first helicopter, an AS 350B2.
As of late yesterday, Bell Helicopter reported signing orders at Heli-Expo for 55 helicopters worth more than $130 million, representing all its models. Leading the pack was the Bell 417, dramatically unveiled here in Dallas on Sunday, with orders for more than 30. Next in line was the Bell 429 with more than 15 orders, followed by single-digit orders for the rest. A spokesperson said Bell expects several more orders to be signed today.
At Sikorsky Aircraft, an order came in from U.S. Helicopter for four S-76C++ birds for its New York City airport shuttle service. Service between the Wall Street Heliport and JFK Airport is expected to begin March 13 using an S-76B.
A Sikorsky spokeswoman told HAI Convention News that the company also has firm commitments for an additional 10 to 12 aircraft, including some of the larger S-92s.
Enstrom received an order at Heli-Expo from Hanseo University of Korea for one 480B turbine and one 280FX piston helicopter, total value of slightly more than $1.1 million. Enstrom president Jerry Mullins said he expects the company to produce 32 new aircraft this year.
Robinson Helicopter Co. took an order from Corporate Helicopters of San Diego for three helicopters valued at just under $1 million; they include one R44 Raven II with optional air conditioning, one R44 Raven I and one R22 Beta II.