The U.S. Navy restarted the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program by issuing a final request for proposals on May 3. The next day, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) officially welcomed a new type into the presidential fleet–the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor–which will be used in a support role to carry White House staff and reporters following the President.
Russian Helicopters has delivered two Mi-171s to Siberian operator Skol Airline. They are fitted with special lifting and transport equipment, including an on-board boom and winch able to lift loads of 330 pounds and an external hoist rated for 8,800 pounds. The new helicopters will “help Skol strengthen its position in the international air-freight market.”
Maverick Helicopters in Las Vegas is preparing to receive its second Eurocopter EC130T2, part of a firm order for 10 new helicopters and options on another 40.
AgustaWestland will open a second production line for the new AW169 medium-twin helicopter at its manufacturing facility in Philadelphia, the company announced today. The primary production line for the AW169 will remain at the company’s plant in Vergiate, Italy. Four examples of the 9,000-pound class helicopter are currently in flight-test, with certification expected next year.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm that was co-founded in August 2010 by airplane fractional program pioneer Richard Santulli, has quickly grown to mammoth size. The Dublin, Ireland-based company said its fleet, which ranges from light-twin to heavy helicopters, now includes more than 90 aircraft from AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky worth more than $1.3 billion.
The number of Eurocopters based in China for both civil and parapublic operators has now reached the 100-aircraft mark. According to Eurocopter, the milestone helicopter–an EC120 light single–was recently delivered to an investor group that will provide “tailored solutions to support the development of helicopter flying clubs.” The company sold 16 turbine helicopters to Chinese commercial and parapublic operators last year, a 54-percent year-over-year increase. It claims a 40-percent share of the market for helicopters in China.
Eurocopter’s presence in China goes back more than 40 years to the first sale of an Alouette III helicopter in the country in 1967. But since then, the European manufacturer has set down much deeper roots in China and the new twin-engine EC175 (or Z15, as the Chinese version is known) represents the latest stage in a wide-ranging cooperation with China’s Avicopter (see box) through the Shanghai-based joint venture Eurocopter China.
India’s yet-to-take off helicopter emergency medical services program (HEMS) received a boost earlier this year with a firm contract for seven Eurocopter EC135s by Bangalore-based Aviators Ltd. signed in the presence of visiting French president François Hollande.
Bell Helicopter unveiled its next-generation tiltrotor on April 10 at the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) annual convention in Fort Worth, Texas. Bell intends to enter the V-280 Valor in the U.S.
The Colombian Army formally inducted into its fleet five new Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters. Colombia is the first South American country to acquire the S-70i variant, which is assembled at Sikorsky’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland.
Sikorsky said the helicopters were custom-equipped in the U.S. for the special forces of the Colombian army’s air assault division. They join a national fleet of 96 UH-60L Black Hawks operated by the Colombian National Police, army and air force. Colombia operates the world’s fourth-largest Black Hawk fleet.