LABACE Convention News

MD Helicopters Takes Aim At Latin America

 - August 16, 2013, 5:30 AM
MD Helicopters’ Explorer with EMS interior and Red Bull exterior almost upstaged the rest of the MD exhibit, which featured an MD520 on the flight deck of a “yacht.” (Photo: David McIntosh)

Latin America is the target of an effort by MD Helicopters to strengthen its dealer network, which consists of one independent representative per country, with the exception of Mexico where there are two. The MD fleet in Latin America currently totals approximately 100 aircraft, with 15 of those in service in Brazil.

“Our focus is to strengthen the dealer network and our goal is to be delivering 12 MD Explorers a year in Latin America by the end of 2015,” said MD director of sales and marketing Philip Marsteller. “And that’s a conservative goal,” he added.

The $6.4 million Explorer is particularly well suited to the Latin American market, he claimed, pointing out “numerous advantages–durability, safety, less noise, ease of maintenance and lower operational costs.”

In terms of safety, MD noted that the Explorer, the 600N and the 520N have no tail rotor, and the main rotor of the company’s twin-engine models is 12 feet off the ground.

Illustrating the ease of maintenance, chief pilot Jay Wigginton said the rotor system can be left in place while the transmission is dropped. And MD claims that at $689 per hour, the Explorer has the lowest direct operating cost in the industry.

Brazilian law enforcement is considering the MD530, said Marsteller. And he added that it will likely become the helicopter of choice for not only law enforcement but for power line inspection and emergency medical service.

At LABACE, the Explorer, despite bearing Red Bull livery, features an EMS interior created by Air Ambulance Technology of Ranshofen, Austria. The design allows room for a single litter, patient, doctor and paramedic. The medical interior can be pulled and the helicopter converted to utility use in as little as 30 minutes.

In terms of demand, Marsteller said Explorer activity has been increasing of late, and a new glass-cockpit, expected to become available in 2015, will become a major selling point.

He said there is growing interest in the Explorer in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, while the U.S. market remains rather flat. And he added that there are plans to strengthen the sales representative network worldwide in the same manner as that for Latin America.