MD Helicopters' CEO Reports “A Very Good Year”
Speaking of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract MD Helicopters signed last year, Lynn Tilton, CEO of Mesa, Arizona-based company, said, “That’s the highlight [of 2011], to serve those who serve for love of country. And it goes back to our roots of 1964, when Hughes Helicopter [predecessor of MD Helicopters] first won a military contract.” She made the comments at a Heli-Expo 2012 press conference in Dallas yesterday.
Tilton declined to disclose revenues or the numbers of helicopters sold in 2011. However, she said, “I will tell you we had a very good year,” adding, “We’re very, very poised for the future and happy. Our single-engine line is as active as it’s ever been.”
The FMS contract calls for delivery of six MD 530F helicopters to the U.S. Army for initial helicopter training for Afghan Air Force pilots. The first three helicopters were delivered in September and all six arrived at Shindand Air Base in Herat Province in December. As part of the contract, MD also delivered two Merlin Flight Simulation Group flight training devices, constructed three hangars for the aircraft at their base and continues to provide logistics support for the aircraft. Total value of the contract, including options (delivery of an additoinal 48 MD 530Fs), is $186 million.
“The option is not just for Afghanistan,” Tilton said. Alluding to potential sales to other military forces the company had previously disclosed, she added, “It’s for [the U.S. Army] to use in all foreign military sales. The three for El Salvador and 12 for the Saudi National Guard will all come from that option.”
Tilton said the company has signed an anticipated collaborative agreement with the Boeing Company for MD to provide airframes for the AH-6i Light Attack/Reconnaissance helicopter, and that Boeing was “on the way” to placing the first order for 24 airframes.
Tilton expressed disappointment that a potential sale of EMS helicopters to Saudi Arabia, as part of a six-nation EMS program in the Middle East the company discussed at last year’s show, failed to materialize.
Going forward, Tilton said the MD Helicopters would do more to publicize the advantages of the Notar (no tail rotor) technology. “We are 35 percent less noisy,” Tilton said. “And 25 percent of all [helicopter] accidents are caused by tail-rotor failure, so rather than push any one model, I think this is the year to educate [potential buyers] and promote Notar technology.”
MD Helicopters made the following additional announcements at Heli-Expo 2012:
- The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners has approved the purchase of three MD 500E helicopters following a six-month RFP process.
- The City of Columbus, Ohio, also ordered an MD 500E for delivery in 2012 with an option for a second aircraft to be delivered in 2013.
- Transport Canada has approved the MD900 for day/night VFR operation in Canada. The company sees as a significant step toward earning full approval for the new MD Explorer 902 configuration with Pratt & Whitney Canada 206E and 207E engines, which is expected in the next few months, according to the company.
- MD also reported receiving FAA approval for installation of the Garmin G500E glass cockpit avionics suite. The unit is now available for production and retrofit installation for the MD 500E, MD 530F and MD 520N models. Retrofits will be performed at the MD Factory Service Center in Mesa, Arizona.