AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters here have signed a “preliminary agreement” to jointly develop a new 2.5-metric-ton class (5,500 pounds) single-engine helicopter. Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland, and Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov inked the document. The program will be shared on a 50/50 basis.
“Having jointly established Helivert to assemble the AW139 in Russia, this program marks the next step,” Spagnolini commented. The aircraft will be smaller, and so cheaper, than the existing AW119ke Koala. It will compete head-to-head with the Eurocopter EC130 T2.
At the Farnborough International airshow, the helicopter manufacturer has announced sales valued at more than $370 million. Spagnolini reported signing contracts with CHC (10 AW139s), Era (five AW139s, plus options), some Japanese customers (three AW139s), Russian customers (three AW139s), Specialist Aviation Services (six AW169s, including options) and the Italian police (two AW139s). AgustaWestland has 11 aircraft on static display and is participating in the flying display with the AW139, AW169 and AW189.
Financial numbers of the first half of 2012 should be in line with those released for the first quarter, Spagnolini said. The first quarter of 2012 saw a 21.5 increase in orders (compared to the same period in 2011), at approximately $1 billion. The newest models, the AW169 and AW189, accounted for half of this amount. The backlog roughly equals three years of production.
AgustaWestland has a number of programs under way for the UK Ministry of Defence. The airframer has delivered six of 62 AW159 Lynx Wildcats on order–34 for the army and 28 for the navy. Another program calls for some air force AW101 Merlins to be transferred to the navy to replace Sea Kings. The modification contract is expected in 2014.