Eurocopter EC 135-T2, Molesmes, France, Jan. 2, 2009–The pilot of the Regourd Aviation EC 135 was killed when the helicopter crashed in hills near Molesmes in IFR conditions. The helicopter, which was destroyed, was en route from Paris to Lyon Bron. The French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses is investigating.
Heli-Expo is normally a venue for major announcements, but in an ironic twist, one of Sikorsky Aircraft’s announcements on Monday was that it will be making an announcement about the S-92–eventually.
Russia is a ripe market for Western helicopters, and at least one company, AgustaWestland, plans to establish manufacturing there. Overall there is considerable potential for more Western rotorcraft penetration in the Russian market especially in the civil, law enforcement and oil-and-gas sectors, with a demand that could grow to 450 to 500 helicopters by 2015.
Executives at two of the world’s largest helicopter makers insisted at Heli-Expo that the industry can continue to flourish even in the face of a severe economic downturn.
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling revealed this morning that the company is working on bringing diesel power to a light helicopter, most likely the EC 120. He said the helicopter would fly within 30 months. He added that ongoing projects at Eurocopter include upgrades for existing models and “preliminary design” of a new turbine-powered helicopter.
Citing a backlog of more than ?10 billion ($12.8 billion) and increases in both revenue and orders during the first nine months of 2008 compared to the same period the year before, AgustaWestland executives on Saturday night said they remain “reasonably and realistically optimistic” about the future of their company as well as that of the industry at large.
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling rebuffed concerns about how his company would fare in the face of the ongoing global economic crisis by stressing the company’s market dominance and its commitment to conserving euros. “Cash is king,” he said, adding that Eurocopter has improved its cash position and dramatically reduced production lead times–by 35 percent–over the last year and that the company has “exceeded our efficiency goals.”
Sikorsky Aircraft (Booth No. 1740) announced at Heli-Expo’09 the creation of Sikorsky Global Helicopters, a new business unit made up of the manufacturer’s commercial products, including the S-76, S-92 and H-92 platforms, as well as the Schweizer helicopter line.
The Honeywell/Pratt & Whitney joint-venture Advanced Turbine Engine Co. (ATEC) successfully completed the preliminary design review by the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate and other government customers for the advanced affordable turbine engine (AATE) technology demonstrator program.
Air Comm (Booth No. 3748) is supplying vapor-cycle air-conditioning systems to Eurocopter for the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program, which is led by EADS North America. Designated UH-72 by the Army, the LUH is a variant of the Eurocopter EC 145. According to Keith Steiner, Air Comm’s evaporator configuration is important to the Army.