With some long-awaited relaxation of the rules governing helicopter operations in China, prospects for the rotorcraft industry at last seem to be firming up. Last year the entire fleet (465 helicopters, 424 based in Mainland China) grew by 20 percent, according to the Asian Sky Group, which in February published the latest edition of its Greater China Civil Helicopter Fleet Report.
Russian Helicopters is launching a new phase of modernization at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant to re-tool and upgrade the factory. The first stage involves modernizing and expanding the production of protective coatings. “Project development started last year, to meet the need to increase efficiency and to ensure the products made are of the highest possible quality,” said Russian Helicopters CEO Alexander Mikheev. As a result, the plant will be ready to start production of the Mi-171A2, an upgraded version of the Mi-8/171.
Chartright Executive Helicopters will operate a depot for AgustaWestland in Toronto that will stock parts for the AW109, AW119 and AW139s. Chartright is an authorized AgustaWestland service center.
The Air Line Pilots Association said in an April 4 statement that it “is unacceptable that the location of the aircraft [MH370] is unknown.
The U.S. Navy is fitting Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk helicopters with a new digital rocket launcher, for the first time enabling them to carry a variety of weapons. The “smart” launcher will be integrated on the MH-60S as part of a rapid deployment capability, and later added to the MH-60R and potentially other platforms, the service said.
Marenco Swisshelicopter signed 11 letters of intent for its all-composite light turbine helicopter at Heli-Expo in February, the company announced on Friday. These signings brought the total number of LOIs for its single-engine SKYe SH09 to 59 units, for deliveries ranging from 2015 to 2017. The Swiss startup helicopter manufacturer brought its prototype to the show, which further delayed its first flight. Swisshelicopter said the SKYe will make its maiden flight “in the coming weeks.”
There were some surprises in the new-helicopter department at the Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo show, held during the last week of February, but the big news this year was the crop of orders, especially from helicopter leasing companies.
Qatar has announced a raft of orders for new equipment worth around $23 billion, covering vehicles, vessels and aircraft, plus associated systems and weaponry. The announcements were made on March 27, which was the last day of the Dimdex show in Qatar’s capital Doha.
Earlier this month Russian Helicopters delivered the 3,500th helicopter of the Mil Mi-17 series. Assembled at the Kazan Helicopters plant, the machine is one of 151 that India has ordered. However, at the same time, tensions with Ukraine are threatening the supply of engines.
Sikorsky Aircraft anticipates contract awards this year from the U.S. Air Force for its new combat rescue helicopter (CRH) and from the Navy for a new U.S. presidential helicopter.