Enstrom Helicopter (Booth No. 2528) sold only five helicopters last year and was forced to lay off more than half of its workforce, but this year is looking up thanks to new opportunities in Asia.
Doug Smith, director of quality assurance for the Menominee, Mich.-based helicopter maker, said the company is in the process of finalizing an order for 16 of its RR250-powered 480Bs for the Royal Thai Army and is selling the turbine single to the Japan Self Defense Force. The Japan contract could involve up to 30 480Bs and run through 2014.
The Asian interest couldn’t come at a better time for Enstrom, as it was forced to lay off 70 employees last April. Asia has traditionally been a strong market for Enstrom and it has long-standing customers in Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea.
Enstrom also is breaking into the aerial application market, delivering a 480B equipped with an Isolair ag-spray kit to Bulgaria’s Fortuna Air. The 120-gallon Isolair system has cockpit-located flow controls and uses a belly tank, pumps and booms attached with quick-disconnect pins for easy change outs.
Prices for base Enstrom helicopters start at $422,000 for the piston-powered 280FX and $995,000 for the 480B.