In the face of what market forecasters predict will be nearly another full decade of flat civil helicopter sales, manufacturers have been loath to risk precious capital to develop models whose market reception would likely be less than enthusiastic. The result has been a handful of new designs, some riskier than others. Herein, the details…
Providing proof that persistence pays off, Sikorsky Aircraft received in the week before Christmas a most welcome present: type certification of its S-92 medium-twin transport helicopter (initially limited to VFR operations).
Offshore operators PHI and Norsk each reached 20,000 hours late last year with their Sikorsky S-92s. PHI, based in Lafayette, La., currently operates 10
S-92s. Norsk, based in Stavanger, Norway, services the North Sea oil industry and reports logging between 150 and 200 hours monthly in each of its S-92s.
Helicopter traffic around the Statfjord and Gullfaks offshore oil fields in Norway was seriously disturbed on December 11 by the incursion of the Russian carrier/cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, along with two Udaloy-class cruisers. About 14 helicopters carrying oil workers had to scrub their flights because of Sukhoi Su-33 activity in the air. Sikorsky S-92 pilots with Norsk Helikopter and CHC could see the fighters operating below them.
After several last-minute delays, Sikorsky delivered the first production S-92 to Petroleum Helicopters, which will use it for offshore service over the Gulf of Mexico. A second was due to be dispatched at press time and further arrivals are scheduled before year-end. Sikorsky plans to deliver an additional 18 aircraft next year. Including options, Sikorsky has orders for 60 S-92s.
Maybe it was pent-up demand. Maybe it was part of a desire to party before the war. Maybe times aren’t as hard as the pundits say they are. No matter the reason, this year’s staging of the Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo was a success far beyond anyone’s expectations.
VIP and government flight specialist Dubai Air Wing has ordered two AW139s in executive configuration. In Qatar, Gulf Helicopters has ordered 10 AW139s for offshore-oil passenger transport.
CHC Helicopter has ordered 12 Sikorsky S-92s and 13 AgustaWestland AW139s. The contracts are worth nearly $400 million. CHC plans to use the S-92s for offshore support and commercial search-and-rescue operations. Delivery of S-92s under the new order is scheduled to begin in 2009. AgustaWestland values CHC’s latest AW139 order at “approximately $140 million.” CHC plans to use the AW139s for offshore support and EMS missions.
A story in AIN’s opening edition at the Dubai Air Show [DEAL FOR RUSSIAN HELOS A BLOW TO FRANCE] suggested that Russian defense export agency Rosboronexport would announce a $2.2 billion deal with Saudi Arabia for 150 Mi-17 transport and Mi-35 attack helicopters at the show.
The recently EASA-certified Eurocopter EC 225 Super Puma has a new anti-vibration system that brings more performance, simplicity and lightness to the helicopter. Othertechnological innovations on themedium-twin helicopter include a new autopilot–with an engine-failure mode–and a new cockpit, which the company describes as providing a more intuitive man-machine interface.