An order for as many as 35 AgustaWestland AW139 medium helicopters, which might be produced by the Helivert joint factory with Russian Helicopters, hit a snag in late August. Negotiations between the Russian Defense Ministry and AgustaWestland spilled into the press, with deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov telling the country’s news agency Itar-Tass, “It’s a very expensive machine. If they cut the price, then we can return to the issue,” giving the distinct impression that a decision had already been made to pass on the $671 million order.
Helicopter leasing firm Milestone Aviation Group announced yesterday at HeliTech a multi-year framework agreement to purchase an unspecified, but “significant,” number of AgustaWestland AW139s, AW169s and AW189s.
These aircraft will enter service worldwide in support of Milestone’s lessees serving offshore oil and gas transportation services, aeromedical transport, search-and-rescue operations, para-public and other utility missions.
Quality Aviation Instruments (QAI) and Gulf Helicopters (GHC) have entered into a joint venture for component repair facilities to be located in Doha, Qatar. The agreement covers component repairs of accessories, avionics and instruments.
AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters signed an agreement last week at the MAKS airshow in Moscow for the joint design and development of a new light single-engine helicopter. The 50-50 joint program was first announced by the partners about a year ago.
The preliminary assessment of the 5,600-pound helicopter’s technical design is expected to be completed “in the next few months.” It is being designed for the worldwide market and a “wide range” of applications, the companies said.
A little more than a month after Ontario’s provincially funded air ambulance service Ornge suffered a fatal crash, the Province’s coroner has released the results of a special investigation into 40 Ornge patient transport-related deaths between 2006 and 2012. Operational errors at Ornge contributed to eight of those deaths, according to the July report, which also made 25 recommendations to improve service at Ornge.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm headed by NetJets founder Richard Santulli, closed a new $300 million credit facility yesterday. The company will use these proceeds to acquire and lease helicopters–including Sikorsky S-92s, Eurocopter EC225s and AgustaWestland AW189s and AW139s–valued at $400 million to affiliates of Bristow Group. The credit facility is the largest ever for a helicopter lessor, the company said.
A helicopter air ambulance belonging to Ontario’s provincially funded service, Ornge, crashed shortly after takeoff May 31, killing its four-man crew of two pilots and two flight paramedics. The 1980 Sikorsky S-76A took off from rural Moosonee along St. James Bay at 12:10 a.m. en route to the remote First Nation village of Attawapiskat for a patient pick-up. It crashed almost immediately after takeoff into a densely wooded area less than 3,000 feet off the airport and burned.
Innovation at AgustaWestland, according to Robert Farnese, company market positioning and promotion manager, comprises two elements. “First, you need to have an idea that works,” he told a Paris Air Show audience on Tuesday. “Second, you have to execute that idea.” He then added a caveat: “You must also master the present and have a vision for the future.”
On March 26 this year the UK’s Department for Transport announced that Bristow Helicopters (part of the U.S.-based Bristow Group) had won the contract to provide a search and rescue helicopter service for the whole of the UK. The 10-year, £1.6 billion contract will officially begin implementation in April 2015, and will be fully in place by 2017, managed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Daniele Romiti, AgustaWestland’s new CEO, says the company needs to adopt a new mindset if it is to improve its capabilities. He summarized the call to action in a motto: “Think Customer,” which he said is embedded in the Anglo-Italian OEM’s “StepChange” program.