Investment from its new owner, Chongqing (China) Helicopter Investment Corporation (CQHIC), is giving Enstrom Helicopter of Menominee, Michigan (Hall 3 Stand A93) a strong tailwind, which is showing results on several fronts.
Thanks to the help of its new Chinese owner, Enstrom Helicopter unveiled plans in April to develop a new helicopter and for a major plant expansion and upgrade of its Menominee, Mich. headquarters.
Enstrom Helicopter is displaying one of its 480B single-engine turbine helicopters at Heli-Expo with Garmin G1000H glass-panel avionics and is making the installation available to customers as an option. The move to G1000H avionics adds Enstrom to the growing list of helicopter manufacturers that have adopted glass cockpits.
Enstrom Helicopter announced late last week that it has been acquired by Chongqing Helicopter Investment Co. (CQHIC) for an undisclosed price. Chongqing is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in China. Menominee, Mich.-based Enstrom manufactures single-engine helicopters, including the 480B turbine and F28 piston series.
Enstrom Helicopter (Booth No. 4800) recently signed the Zuhai Business Aviation Center as its authorized dealer in China. Located in Guandong Province, Zuhai will sell, service and operate Entroms along with their fixed-wing businessZuhai has ordered one 480B turbine single and a 280FX piston helicopter to serve as demonstrators. The helicopters will be delivered soon. Enstrom first sold helicopters into China in the 1990s, delivering a trio of Model 480s for powerline patrol and agricultural spraying and two Model 280FX helicopters for police duty.
Enstrom Helicopter (Booth No. 4810) had its best year on record last year. With 16 helicopters delivered during the year–14 of which were Enstrom 480B turbine models priced at more than $1 million each–the Menominee, Mich.-based helicopter manufacturer earned its highest annual revenue in its 52-year history.
With the recent sale of a 480B turbine single to Wuhan Helicopters, Enstrom has returned to the Chinese market. It was in the early 1990s that the Menominee, Mich.-based manufacturer first sold helicopters into China when Wuhan Helicopters imported some of the first civil certified helicopters–Enstrom 280FXs used by the Wuhan Police and Enstrom 480s for agricultural spraying.
Days before Heli-Expo 2011, Enstrom Helicopter delivered the first of 30 TH-480B turbine training helicopters ordered by the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF), and the company is still hovering a little above the ground in the afterglow of the late February delivery ceremony in Japan.
The first Enstrom 480B helicopters to be equipped with Powerline Detection Systems (PDS), which are designed and manufactured by Safe Flight Instrument (Booth No. 1615) of White Plains, N.Y., will soon be flying. Safe Flight has begun delivery of three such systems to Enstrom, which will install them on new 480Bs destined for the Royal Thai Army.
Last year AgustaWestland (AW) acquired a majority interest in Polish airframer PZL-Swidnik. The deal included Swidnik’s long-in-development SW-4 light turbine single, which was on display at this year’s Farnborough airshow. While an AW spokesman declined to reveal the helicopter’s price, the SW-4 is widely believed to sell for a base price near $1 million, with prices approaching double that figure for a well equipped model.