Dubai Air Show

UAE Start-up Firm To Unveil New Helicopter at Dubai Air Show

 - November 12, 2011, 7:45 PM

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is about to get its first-ever rotorcraft manufacturer, with local company Quest Helicopters unveiling a completely new design on today at 1:15 p.m. on the Dubai Air Show’s static display. The company, a subsidiary of Quest Investments, has tapped Ukrainian expertise to develop the program. It believes it can get the aircraft certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) by the fourth quarter of 2013.

Codenamed Project Q, the helicopter is described as a small light twin for missions such as emergency medical services, police, utility and VIP transportation. A full-size mockup and the forward section of a real airframe are on display here this week.

Selling points will be price, performance and delivery, according to commercial director Mike Creed. “We’ll start production nine months before the expected certification and, therefore, we’ll be able to deliver as soon as the authorities approve the helicopter,” Creed told AIN ahead of this week’s show. He is predicting that 20 airframes will be ready to for customers by the time of certification.

Creed said Quest Helicopters owns the unnamed Ukrainian company that is in charge of design. He claims the helicopter will be “robust, with Western refinements.”

During the development phase, Ukraine’s Motor Sich will supply the engines. “They are available now,” Creed said. However, the would-be UAE airframer also is looking at alternative powerplant options. Ideally, these would be the size of the Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft, “with a higher power rating.” The 300-shp-class RR300 powers the Robinson R66. A piston-twin version is also being considered for the Project Q.

Flight testing will take place in the UAE. “The GCAA [the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority] has known about the project for a year-and-a-half,” Creed said. In addition to EASA certification, the company will also seek approvals from the Ukraine and the UAE. A stabilized production rate is targeted at 30 to 50 units per year, with a factory to be established in the UAE.