Even as other aviation segments struggled in the throes of a recession deeper and more enduring than anyone expected, the rotorcraft industry remained at least healthy. But is that going to last? If Heli-Expo 2011 in March was an indicator, the answer is “yes.”
The AgustaWestland AW189 medium twin helicopter will be the first civil application for Microturbo’s e-APU, an auxiliary power unit that delivers essentially electric power.
AgustaWestland’s new CEO, Bruno Spagnolini, ensured that his company made a big splash at this year’s Paris Air Show, announcing a new helicopter, new joint ventures, plans to increase product support and service and takeover of the languishing civil tiltrotor program from development partner Bell Helicopter.
Dark clouds and a strong breeze failed to prevent yesterday’s unveiling of AgustaWestland’s latest civil helicopter, the eight-ton multi-role AW189. “This reminds me of the North Sea, one of the working environments our new helicopter was designed for,” said AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini.
Aero Sekur is continuing discussions with helicopter manufacturers here at the Paris Air Show in its search for a launch customer for its in-development, crash-landing protection system for helicopters, which it introduced last year at the Farnborough airshow.
For the better part of five years AgustaWestland (AW) had been counting on Turkey to be a major customer for the military variant of its AW139 medium twin, the AW149, for the Turkish utility helicopter program (TUHP).
Russian Helicopters and engine manufacturer Turbomeca announced last month that they signed contracts for the supply of “at least 308” Ardiden 3G turboshafts to be installed on the “updated” Kamov Ka-62 medium twin. The Ardiden 3G is an Ardiden 3 variant producing 1,700 to 2,000 shp.
AgustaWestland (Stand 7010) has sold a GrandNew light twin helicopter to Turkey’s Genel Havacilik. The aircraft will be used for VIP missions and is slated for delivery next month. The order marks the type’s entry into the Turkish market.
At this year’s Heli-Expo, Bell CEO John Garrison was adamant that the company could afford a new civil helicopter program. “Capital-wise we have the ability to invest in new platform development. That is not a constraint. We just have to pick and choose,” Garrison said, declining to identify the market sectors Bell was considering. “The business has the ability to fund it.”
Industry analysts have been declaring China the “next big market” every year since the discussion came around to business aviation in China. Now, as an economic recovery appears to have begun, it seems China is finally fulfilling its promise, and based on activity at Heli-Expo 2011 in March, the helicopter industry is poised to take advantage of demand.