Action Aviation, the exclusive distributor of MD Helicopters in the Middle East, Indian subcontinent and Scandinavia, is showing the 6,500-pound MD902 in the static display. Though appearing at the Dubai Air Show for the first time, it made its first Middle East appearance at the Dubai Helishow in December last year, said Action Aviation managing director Mike Creed.
“‘What do they know about the helicopter business? They’ll be begging to be bought out in six months.’ That’s what the rest of the industry was saying about us when we bought the civil division of what had been Boeing Helicopters back in 1998,” recalled Mesa, Ariz.-based MD Helicopters Inc. (MDHI) president and CEO Henk Schaeken.
MD Helicopters has to slash its work force by a quarter. The troubled company has been further damaged by a slowdown in orders for its helicopters, which are primarily aimed at the law enforcement and air ambulance markets.
The company is “permanently eliminating” 23 jobs, according to a spokeswoman, while another 33 people are being laid off until business improves. About 200 employees will remain at the plant in Mesa, Ariz.
Although the shadow of the September 11 atrocity in the U.S. was evident at Helitech, the major American companies participated fully, and some praised both the exhibition and its new venue. Previously held at Redhill Aerodrome, conveniently close to London Gatwick Airport but all too often waterlogged, Helitech moved this year to Duxford Airfield’s hard runway and concrete apron–a switch that was widely welcomed.
Sikorsky announced that company chairman Dean Borgman will retire in July. His decision brings to a close a distinguished rotorcraft career that stretches back into the 1960s.
MD Helicopters has requested a concessionary renegotiation of the land leases for its main plant and offices at Falcon Field in Mesa, Ariz. The company made the petition to the City of Mesa in July after the rent on most of its 46-acre site automatically doubled during the last year under terms of the leases, first signed in 1983 when the company was known as Hughes Helicopters.
MD Helicopters (MDH) last month dismissed as ill-founded “rumors” circulating that the company is for sale.
MD Helicopters completed a restructuring last month in which Patriarch Partners, a New York financial firm, acquired a controlling interest in the Mesa, Ariz. helicopter manufacturer. RDM, a Netherlands-based group that purchased the company from Boeing in 1999, retains a minority interest.
MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton said yesterday that the company plans to deliver 48 helicopters this year even as it continues to struggle with supply-chain issues and clear away the debris left by decades of mismanagement. “It’s not a one-year fix. It’s not a two-year fix. This is a five-year turnaround,” she said of the company.
If helicopter sales at this year’s Heli-Expo had been any better, there might have been an executive conga line snaking its way through the exhibit floor today. Sales reported as of late yesterday had surpassed $732 million, $112 million more than at the same point in the show last year.