The bid deadline for the U.S. Navy’s high-profile VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program closed on August 1 with apparently only one bidder—Sikorsky Aircraft—submitting a proposal. The Navy declined to identify the number of bids received, but other companies that had earlier announced plans to compete for the VXX contract confirmed that they have decided not to submit proposals.
The first ICH-47F Chinook helicopter destined for the Italian army made its maiden flight on June 24 at Vergiate, in northern Italy, program prime contractor AgustaWestland announced.
GKN Aerospace (Chalet B73, Hall 2b F169) has completed coordination of a nine-nation European project, which has succeeded in developing a new optical ice-monitoring concept. The new system promises fully automated inflight ice protection for the first time.
Rockwell Collins (Hall 2B D108) is launching a family of products designed to give helicopter pilots better situational awareness when flying in congested and hazard-filled airspace. Called HeliSure, the family’s first two products, Helicopter Synthetic Vision System (H-SVS) and Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (H-Taws), have been selected by AgustaWestland for its AW149, AW189, AW101 and AW169 helicopters.
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.
AgustaWestland is in an expansive mood when it comes to civil rotorcraft training. The northern Italy-based helicopter manufacturer recently installed a new CAE-built AW139 full-flight simulator (FFS) at its primary training center in Sesto Calende and plans to add FFSs for the new AW189 and AW169 designs by 2014 and 2015, respectively. In addition, the company has recently launched courses in Switzerland and Malaysia, and anticipates future training expansion into the UK and Russia. The Middle East and South America are on its radar also.
AgustaWestland (Booth 7070) has received orders from Russia and the British Isles for VIP-configured helicopters.
Exclases Russia inked a contract for five AW139 medium twins–in a mix of VIP and utility layouts. HeliVert, a Russian Helicopters and AgustaWestland joint venture located in Tomilino near Moscow, will produce the AW139s. The deal is a follow-on to a previous agreement, which calls for one AW139 to be delivered in June. Exclases also has ordered a GrandNew light twin in VIP transport configuration.
The U.S. Navy restarted the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program by issuing a final request for proposals on May 3. The next day, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) officially welcomed a new type into the presidential fleet–the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor–which will be used in a support role to carry White House staff and reporters following the President.
Though its parent company Finmeccanica yesterday reported €786 million in losses last year, subsidiary AgustaWestland posted strong 2012 results that included revenues of €4.2 billion, new orders of €4 billion and an accumulated backlog of €11.87 billion, as well as earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation of €473 million. The helicopter manufacturer’s results reflected marginally improved results over its 2011 performance and also reflected a slight increase in research and development spending, to €506 million.
AgustaWestland and Embraer have terminated joint-venture discussions for helicopter production in Brazil. The companies issued a joint statement yesterday announcing the decision, but declined to provide reasons why talks collapsed.