Nearly 15,000 attendees filled the exhibit hall at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston through the second day of Heli-Expo 2010. The three-day show officially comes to a close today. The total number of exhibitors this year was 596, up from 585 last year. Total attendance was expected to be within 1 to 3 percent of last year’s record 17,373.
In the wake of a tail-boom failure on a Gulf Airways AW139 in August last year, AgustaWestland (Booth No. 1629) is assuring customers with helicopters on order that it will deliver them with a newly designed boom starting in April. The tail boom on the Gulf AW139 failed several months after the tail boom had struck an oil rig and while the helicopter was taxiing on the ground in Doha, Qatar. There were no injuries.
Paradigm Aerospace’s new name, PAC International (Booth No. 3542), signifies the company’s new international emphasis. PAC is an FAA Part 145 repair station and services a broad range of aircraft with a focus on Bell and AgustaWestland helicopters. The company is in negotiations with military organizations in both Latin America and Asia for component repair and overhaul work.
On February 16 AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi and Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata formed an Indian joint-venture company that will establish a final assembly line in India for the AW119 for the worldwide market. The joint venture will be responsible for AW119 final assembly, completion and delivery; AgustaWestland will retain responsibility for worldwide marketing and sales.
In the wake of the highly publicized tail-boom failure on a Gulf Airways AW139 last August 25, AgustaWestland has been quietly assuring customers with AW139s on order that it will begin equipping them with a new-design tail boom beginning next month. The boom on the Gulf AW139 failed while the aircraft was taxiing in Doha, Qatar, and there were no injuries.
The collapse of a Gulf Helicopters AgustaWestland AW139 tailboom while the helicopter was taxiing last year has prompted issuance of an airworthiness directive (2009-SW-50-AD) for a special repetitive inspection every 50 hours time-in-service to check for delamination on the boom’s composite skins. The helicopter with the failed boom had sustained a boom strike some months before the incident.
The Finnish Border Guard has ordered an AgustaWestland AW119Ke for border patrol, special operations and firefighting missions. It will join the agency’s first three AW119Kes, scheduled to enter service during the third quarter. All will operate from Helsinki and Rovaniemi. In Bulgaria, the Ministries of Finance and Interior have ordered two AW109 Powers to provide air surveillance capability on the outer European Union borders.
To the accompaniment of multicolored lights and music, AgustaWestland unveiled its new AW109 Grand New here yesterday. According to AgustaWestland head of marketing Roberto Garavaglia, the helicopter is a “step change” follow-on to the popular AW109S Grand.
AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi offered a satisfactory look back at 2009, as well as a positive forecast, during a Heli-Expo press conference on Saturday here in Houston.
“Last year was better than we had expected,” he said, although the year-end numbers won’t be announced officially by Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, until early next month. “Despite the [economic] crisis, 2009 was a great year for us.”
Donaldson is introducing two new products to its line of helicopter inlet-barrier filters (IBF). Inlet filters for the AgustaWestland AW109 Power and Grand and for the Eurocopter EC135 are slated for certification this year. Donaldson IBFs are operating around the world, from flight operations in Nepal near Mount Everest to the Sacramento Valley of California, protecting helicopter turbine engines during crop-spraying sorties.