Lease Corporation International (LCI), which signed a large helicopter order with AgustaWestland at last year’s Heli-Expo show, has announced an agreement with aerial services group Avincis (Booth No. C7211), which is leasing a new AW139. This will be operated for offshore crew changes in North Sea oil and gas fields by Avincis’s Aberdeen-based subsidiary Bond Offshore Helicopters.
AgustaWestland announced the AW149 program in 2006 and the 8.6-ton helicopter made its first flight in 2009. Based on the successful AW139 medium twin, the 149 is a military variant that is 12 feet longer, four feet taller, 5,000 pounds heavier (mtow), has a slightly larger main rotor disk and a pair of more powerful, Fadec-controlled GE CT7-2E1 turboshafts (2,000 shp each) that give the helicopter good high/hot performance and satisfy the 6,000-foot, 95-degree F OGE standard.
UK-based Bond Offshore Helicopters has won a $24 million contract with BW Offshore for transportation services to its “Limited Floating Production Storage and Offtake vessel” operated on behalf of Ithaca Energy in the Athena oil field, approximately 100 nm northeast of Aberdeen, Scotland. Operations are due to begin in March with an AgustaWestland AW139. The contract covers three years and includes options to extend the period.
Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with Brazilian aircraft company Embraer to establish a joint venture to manufacture AgustaWestland helicopters in Brazil for both the domestic and regional military and civilian markets.
The first AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter assembled in Russia flew last month, Helivert, a joint venture between AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters, announced Tuesday. The 37-minute maiden sortie took place on December 19 at Russian Helicopters’ “National Helicopter Building Center” in Tomilino, near Moscow.
The Maryland State Police unveiled the first of 10 new AgustaWestland AW139 medium twin-engine helicopters it will receive to replace its aging fleet of 11 Eurocopter AS365N Dauphins. The AW139s will be equipped with search-and-rescue, medical and law enforcement equipment as well as a full IFR avionics suite and safety-enhancing equipment such as H-Taws, night-vision-goggle compatibility, radar altimeters, satellite tracking, live video downlink, and cockpit voice and video recorders. The AW139s can perform hoist lifts while operating on a single engine.
Lease Corporation International (LCI) has assigned several of the new-generation AgustaWestland helicopters that it ordered in February this year and expects initial deliveries to begin early next year. The company, which already has a diverse airliner leasing portofolio, is planning to place fresh orders with other rotorcraft manufacturers, according to CEO Mike Platt.
FlightSafety International is moving to expand and upgrade its helicopter training portfolio substantially, according to David Davenport, vice president of operations.
“Helicopter training has been a high-growth business for FlightSafety for many years. We have always been the factory-authorized training provider for Bell and Sikorsky. We’ve also tried to branch out into highly successful helicopters such as the [Eurocopter] EC135 and [AgustaWestland] AW139,” Davenport said.
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will resume contract night helicopter firefighting operations in Southern California next year. The announcement was made recently after the USFS evaluated a study it commissioned that was completed in 2010. That study found that helicopter night operations can mitigate the costs and risks of wildfires by retarding their size.
AgustaWestland delivered its 500th AW139 this summer to Weststar Aviation Services of Malaysia, a year after delivering its 400th AW139. Weststar is the largest operator of AW139s in Asia, with 13 already in service and three more on order. The company serves the offshore oil and gas industry.