Newquay Cornwall Airport (Hall 1 Stand B16) is hoping that helicopter manufacturer Agusta-Westland’s recent decision to establish a new flight training facility could prove to be the first step in building an aerospace business hub at the former Royal Air Force base in the southwest of England. The $1.5 million development was announced on March 31, and includes funding from the European Regional Development Fund.
AgustaWestland broke ground on a new production plant at Tomilino, near Moscow, late last month. The 120,000-sq-ft building will house another final assembly line for the AW139 medium twin under an equal joint venture called HeliVert with state-owned Russian Helicopters. The AW139 is currently manufactured in Italy, as well as in the U.S. at Agusta’s Philadelphia plant.
AgustaWestland (Booth No. 7020) has received FAA and EASA certification for the full ice-protection system (FIPS) on its AW139 medium twin helicopter. With the FIPS option, the aircraft can fly into known icing. Approval from Transport Canada is expected soon and the manufacturer plans to deliver 12 FIPS-equipped AW139s this year.
AgustaWestland on March 31 officially opened its “operational flying training center” (OFTC) at Newquay Cornwall Airport in South West England. The OFTC can provide services from basic helicopter pilot training to “advanced operational helicopter flying training.” Because the training center was devised for military and public services pilots, it is also able to train rear crew for rescue winch and medical missions.
The FAA has proposed that ERA Helicopters pay a civil penalty of $260,000 for operating a helicopter on Part 135 flights without complying with required post-maintenance checks and test flights. According to the agency’s penalty letter, sent to ERA on January 28, ERA operated Agusta AW139 N156JS for 23 passenger-carrying flights without accomplishing a required blade track and balance check following replacement of a rotor system lag damper.
Financial results for 2009 showed that AgustaWestland (Booth No. 7020) is spending more on research and development than its rival Eurocopter (Booth No. 7010). The latter gives a high profile to its R&D efforts, while the former has consistently been much quieter. Nonetheless, Europe’s leading helicopter manufacturers have joined forces for Clean Sky, a major research project partly funded by the European Commission (EC).
Servizi Elicotteristici Italiani (SEI) has received EASA certification for its lightweight cabin-noise and vibration-reduction system called Silens. The system was approved on an AgustaWestland AW139 and FAA certification is expected early this year.
In the wake of a tail-boom failure on a Gulf Airways AW139 in August last year, AgustaWestland (Booth No. 1629) is assuring customers with helicopters on order that it will deliver them with a newly designed boom starting in April. The tail boom on the Gulf AW139 failed several months after the tail boom had struck an oil rig and while the helicopter was taxiing on the ground in Doha, Qatar. There were no injuries.
S.E.I. Creates Quieter Cabin
HeliValues (Booth No. 3401) president Sharon Desfor said on Sunday here at Heli-Expo 2010 that values of used helicopters may be nearing the bottom. “It could be the middle of this year,” she said, “depending on how much credit loosens up. That has been holding back the market more than any other single factor. If you can’t get money, you can’t buy anything, so the used inventory keeps escalating.”