Investing in a new helicopter is not a decision to be made lightly–especially for a mom-and-pop operation working in a particularly volatile market sector. Helicopter tour firms have taken a big knock since 9/11 and, as the FAA and National Park Service implement “natural quiet” in the region, the Grand Canyon area of Nevada and Arizona will be subject to new, stricter noise rules and flight restrictions.
Hillsboro Aviation has won a contract from the Chicago Police Department to complete a new Bell 206B-3 JetRanger. The JetRanger will complement an existing LongRanger IV that was acquired from the Chicago Fire Department earlier this year and is currently being retrofitted by Hillsboro.
As part of a modernization program for its helicopter fleet, AgustaWestland will supply four A109 Powers to Japan’s National Police Agency. Earlier this year, three A109 Powers and an AW139 were delivered to the same organization. This order will bring the total number of A109s in service with the Japanese Police to 11, and the OEM says that the figure is set to “grow significantly” over the coming years.
The award of the U.S. Army’s LUH (light utility helicopter) contract to American Eurocopter will mean significant expansion at its assembly plant at Columbus, Miss. Production of the UH-145–a customized version of Eurocopter’s EC 145 (originally the BK 117), which is currently built in Germany–will be transferred to Columbus in a series of steps beginning with partial assembly, followed by full assembly and the subsequent U.S.
In May Eurocopter launched Eurocopter Training Services (ETS), its full-fledged training subsidiary. It offers dedicated training for the recently introduced avionics in the European manufacturer’s products. The company also wanted to reap the fruits of a growing training market for helicopter pilots and maintenance technicians. The company expands on the training services that Eurocopter used to provide.
Russian manufacturer Rostvertol is establishing a joint venture with Lectern Aviation Supplies in Hong Kong to promote its Mi-26T heavy-lifter in the People’s Republic of China.
Western OEMs so far have not targeted the Chinese heavy-lift helicopter market sector. Rostvertol says it has already made several presentations in China and representatives have also visited its plant in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.
With the appointment of a new manager to lead its bid for a joint civil/military UK Search and Rescue service, Bristow Helicopters is giving notice of its desire to win the contract back from Canadian nemesis CHC. Bristow director Allan Blake is confident that the loss of the work last year was “just a hiccup” for the helicopter services company.
A committee within the London Assembly is investigating the issue of helicopter noise in Britain’s capital. The group will try to establish how an increase in helicopter traffic would affect Londoners.
The committee also wants to look at helicopter routings over London, the noise performance of helicopters typically used and the different types of helicopter use in London.
There is “lots of demand” for civil helicopters in Latin America, according to Danny Maldonado, v-p of Latin American sales for Bell Helicopter.
With an eye to expanding markets, CHC Helicopter is extending its presence in Brazil, where demand for offshore helicopter support of the oil industry is growing rapidly.