Sikorsky Aircraft is lobbying to replace AgustaWestland (AW) as the supplier of VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force. The company is already building fuselages for the S-92 in India. Meanwhile, the Indian Minister of Defense confirmed that the ministry had sent a legal notice to AgustaWestland regarding the contract for 12 AW101s, now in jeopardy after the company allegedly violated the terms of a pre-integrity pact. The company has 21 days to respond.
India’s attorney general, Goolamhussein Essaji Vahanvati, ruled last week that AgustaWestland breached contractual obligations and an associated “integrity pact” in winning a $787 million contract to supply 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2010, raising the possibility the government will cancel the deal.
Yunnan Jingchen Group ordered one Sikorsky S-92 medium twin last month for transporting corporate and government VIPs. The group had just received Chinese government approval to establish a general aviation company, named the Ruili Helicopter Group. The newly ordered S-92 is scheduled for delivery in November 2015. It will become the second operated by Jingchen, after the first was delivered in June this year.
Helicopter operator Bristow has inked several multi-year contracts with offshore oil and gas companies. The deals involve 12 large and three medium helicopters and are expected to generate up to $850 million in revenue. Operations will take place in Europe, Australia, the Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique. Six of the 12 large helicopters are new Sikorsky S-92s.
Mitsubishi has contracted with Sikorsky to acquire 11 S-76Ds for search-and-rescue operations by the Japan Coast Guard. Meanwhile, in China, Citic Offshore Helicopter has ordered two S-92s for offshore oil transportation. Sikorsky plans to deliver the new S-92s in December next year and March 2015. In another Chinese deal, Sikorsky and Zhuhai Helicopter announced a contract for four Sikorsky S-92s to be used for offshore missions.
Bristow is retrofitting a fleet of 44 Sikorsky S-76C++s and Sikorsky S-92As with Rockwell Collins’s traffic alert and collision avoidance (Tcas II) system. Installations are in progress. A new-generation system, the TTR-4100, will be fitted to 20 of the helicopters. It adds traffic computer capability and enables automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) in.
It was six years ago that Sabreliner decided to enter the helicopter modification business. The company has since found a growing niche market in UH-60M Black Hawk modification and cabin refurbishment, transforming these rough-and-tumble combat aircraft into luxurious executive transport for heads-of-state around the world.
The St. Louis-based company most recently delivered executive variants of the Black Hawk to the Royal Jordanian Air Force, bringing the total number of highly modified UH-60Ms to 11.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm headed by NetJets founder Richard Santulli, closed a new $300 million credit facility yesterday. The company will use these proceeds to acquire and lease helicopters–including Sikorsky S-92s, Eurocopter EC225s and AgustaWestland AW189s and AW139s–valued at $400 million to affiliates of Bristow Group. The credit facility is the largest ever for a helicopter lessor, the company said.
The FAA has certified a new functionality on the Sikorsky S-92: an automated rig approach for offshore operators intended to decrease workload when the crew is in a critical flight phase. Sikorsky intends eventually to bring the same capability to the smaller S-76D.
The S-92’s autopilot already had a search-and-rescue (SAR) mode that could fly the rotorcraft to a point in space. Sikorsky design engineers, collaborating with operator PHI, built on this mode to create the new functionality. In addition, the weather radar ensures the flight path is free from obstacles.
On March 26 this year the UK’s Department for Transport announced that Bristow Helicopters (part of the U.S.-based Bristow Group) had won the contract to provide a search and rescue helicopter service for the whole of the UK. The 10-year, £1.6 billion contract will officially begin implementation in April 2015, and will be fully in place by 2017, managed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).