Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling revealed this morning that the company is working on bringing diesel power to a light helicopter, most likely the EC 120. He said the helicopter would fly within 30 months. He added that ongoing projects at Eurocopter include upgrades for existing models and “preliminary design” of a new turbine-powered helicopter.
AINalerts » February 22, 2009
The second Robinson R66 made its first flight on February 18, marking an important milestone for a company dealing with the affects of the economic downturn. Weekly output at Robinson has fallen from 17 to 12 helicopters, with the number expected to go lower still. In January the company began laying off workers at a rate of 50 per month, the maximum allowed by law without having to give 60-days’ notice.
Honeywell’s annual market forecast for civil turbine-powered helicopters released yesterday predicts flat to slightly higher deliveries in the next five years compared with the previous five-year period, but there are caveats aplenty. The forecast calls for delivery levels this year to remain near 2008 levels before declining next year.
The projected certification date for Bell’s new 429 light twin has slipped from the first quarter to May. Originally slated for FAA certification in late 2007, the 429 has been dogged by repeated delays as the company juggles military and civil programs, including the $70 million-per-copy V-22 tiltrotor, which is now poised to become the single biggest piece of Bell’s business.
The Helicopter Association International’s annual Heli-Expo kicked off this morning amid a wave of negative signs all pointing to a prolonged economic downturn. Against such a backdrop, it’s a little disorienting to step foot inside the Heli-Expo exhibition hall at the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California and find it packed with exhibitors and visitors.