Asia accounted for about 20 percent of AgustaWestland’s orders last year and the European helicopter maker therefore sees the region as a growing market. The booming Chinese economy is a big factor in this assessment, as is the European helicopter maker’s presence in the People’s Republic through an expanding relationship with the Chinese aerospace industry.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has signed a $260,000 contract with Boundary Layer Research (BLR) to adapt a NASA-patented technology for use on the Coast Guard’s fleet of HH-65 Dolphin helicopters.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s fleet of 96 Eurocopter HH-65 Dolphin helicopters surpassed one million flight hours on September 20. The USCG first acquired the twin-engine HH-65 in 1985 and uses the helicopters for patrol, law enforcement, armed interdiction and rescue missions throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean from 17 land bases and aboard ships. The HH-65 is a variant of the Eurocopter AS 365 Dauphin.
As an aid to combating piracy in this region, Alenia has offered the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) the use of two previously owned ATR 42 MP (maritime patrol) aircraft to be operated by a local company on its behalf. Reporting to the defense minister, the MMEA began operations in November last year under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department.
American Eurocopter (AE) is to re-engine and upgrade the U.S. Coast Guard’s HH-65 Dolphin fleet under the Deepwater program.
AE will manage the conversion of 11 HH-65Bs to the upgraded HH-65C variant at its Columbus, Miss. facility, with the work planned for completion late next year. The program includes an option for upgrading six additional aircraft.
Further details have been announced about the future of the UK’s helicopter search-and-rescue service. From 2012, the Ministry of Defence and Maritime and Coastguard Agency will jointly manage a “harmonized” operation under a private finance initiative, with Royal Navy and Royal Air Force crews working alongside their civilian counterparts in common aircraft types.
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