AgustaWestland is acquiring Bell Helicopter’s 25-percent interest in the AB139 twin-turbine helicopter and increasing its stake in the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor. Consolidating the ownership of the AB139 will provide “increased sales and improved customer support,” according to AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppi Orsi. Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland remain partners on the Model 412 and the U.S. Presidential fleet of US-101s.
If sales are the standard by which the success of an aviation trade show is measured, Heli-Expo 2006 will go down as an unqualified triumph, with announced helicopter sales contracts tallying more than $620 million among all the major manufacturers.
It will come as no surprise to industry watchers that Eurocopter had another good year last year. Its $4 billion order book was its best in the last five years. The total included $1.7 billion worth of new helicopters–equivalent to 401 airframes–and 70 percent of that sum was for export.
Sasemar, the Spanish Marine Safety Agency, is the fifth government customer to order AgustaWestland’s AW139 medium-twin helicopter in search-and-rescue (SAR) configuration, like the one shown here. Sasemar has contracted for three, following previous orders by the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Ireland and most recently Estonia.
In the wake of buying out Bell’s 25-percent stake in the AB139 medium-twin helicopter, AgustaWestland has rebranded the fast-selling model as the AW139. AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi told HAI Convention News that “the helicopter’s success was part of the reasoning behind our decision to realign Bell/Agusta Aerospace. We also wanted to consolidate the company’s industrial presence in the U.S.
Mitsui Bussan Aerospace of Japan planned to announce this morning it has signed a contract valued at approximately $100 million for the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters. Deliveries are scheduled to begin next year.
The Sikorsky S-92 and Agusta AB139 will be deployed on search-and-rescue (SAR) duties around the UK between next year and 2012. In a surprise announcement early last month, Britain’s Coast Guard revealed that challenger CHC Scotia beat incumbent Bristow Helicopters to the $86 million contract and will run SAR operations at four bases on the south coast of England and to the north of Scotland.
Spanish operator Helisureste has taken delivery of an Agusta- Westland 139. The new helicopter will be used on the company’s scheduled service flying between Malaga and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, on the north African coast.
Further details have been announced about the future of the UK’s helicopter search-and-rescue service. From 2012, the Ministry of Defence and Maritime and Coastguard Agency will jointly manage a “harmonized” operation under a private finance initiative, with Royal Navy and Royal Air Force crews working alongside their civilian counterparts in common aircraft types.