AgustaWestland appointed former Bell CEO John Murphey to run Agusta-WestlandBell (AWB), the joint-venture company formed to manage the US-101 helicopter program. The US-101 and Sikorsky S-92 are the two finalists in the competition to replace the current fleet of Marine One helicopters that carry the President.
Italy’s Finmeccanica, which owns 50 percent of AgustaWestland, reportedly plans to become sole owner of the Anglo-Italian helicopter company by buying London-based GKN’s 50-percent share. The statement came at GKN’s annual meeting, where stakeholders blamed AgustaWestland for causing interim profits to fall “somewhat below” those achieved a year before.
Italian-based manufacturer AgustaWestland early last month expressed interest in buying all or part of its Polish-based counterpart, PZL-Swidnik, should Polish authorities confirm their intention to privatize the company. The two companies have been cooperating for 11 years. PZL-Swidnik now produces the fuselages of five AgustaWestland models–the AW109 Power and Grand, AW109 LUH, AW119 Ke and AW139.
Business/VIP helicopter owners are increasingly demanding more cabin comfort and equipment. Helicopter manufacturers enjoying a booming market for their products are thus endeavoring to make their interiors look more like those of business jets.
The AgustaWestland/Bell/Lockheed Martin VH-71 made its first flight July 3 in Yeovil, UK. The 40-minute flight reached speeds of 135 knots and was reportedly uneventful, but there are likely challenges ahead for the program. The U.S. Navy is developing the VH-71 as a replacement for the 30-year-old Sikorsky VH-3Ds and somewhat newer N-60 “Whitehawks” that transport the President and other high-ranking government officials.
AgustaWestland has delivered two helicopters–one AW109 Power light twin and one AW139 medium twin–to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. These two aircraft are part of a June 2006 order, which includes two CA109 Powers to be produced by AgustaWestland’s local joint venture with AVIC II. The CA109s are said to be in the final assembly phase at Jiangxi Change Agusta Helicopter facilities.
AgustaWestland has designated Kaigai Aviotech of Japan to sell the AW119 Ke, AW109 Power and Grand in the Japanese commercial market. The two companies also agreed to establish a maintenance and support center for AgustaWestland helicopters in Japan.
At the Farnborough Air Show last month, helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland unveiled its new Agusta A109S Grand, a medium twin-engine rotorcraft designed to fill the gap between the Agusta A109 Power and the Bell/Agusta AB139, now entering service. The helicopter is expected to receive certification early next year, with deliveries to begin in the second half of the year.
AgustaWestland has won a contract from the UK government’s cabinet office to supply resilience training. These services will be provided as part of the Project Gold Standard, which aims at effective management of emergencies and disasters. AgustaWestland will teach strategic Gold commanders using courses, simulation and exercises. The first Gold Standard Exercise is pegged for June 25.
Boeing is confident that its HH-47 rotorcraft will be reconfirmed as the winner of the
potential $10 billion U.S. Air Force combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) competition. But even without adding the 141 helicopters required for CSAR, the evergreen Chinook looks set for at least two more decades of production for the U.S. Army and international customers.