Industry analysts have been declaring China the “next big market” every year since the discussion came around to business aviation in China. Now, as an economic recovery appears to have begun, it seems China is finally fulfilling its promise, and based on activity at Heli-Expo 2011 in March, the helicopter industry is poised to take advantage of demand.
The Helicopter Association International’s 2011 Heli-Expo show, which closes today, looks to have exceeded expectations, with exhibitors, attendees and orders indicating a strong climb out of the long economic downturn.
Air Medical Resource Group ordered seven Eurocopter AS350B3e rotorcraft at Heli-Expo, becoming the launch customer for the new model AStar introduced at this year’s convention. A more powerful version of the AS350B3, it’s powered by a Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine and new generation Fadec. Certification is planned for this summer and deliveries are scheduled to begin by year’s end.
The leadership team at Dart Helicopter Services has changed. Mike O’Reilly, president of Eagle Copters, Calgary, Alberta, has succeeded Jeff Shapiro as president and CEO. O’Reilly will remain in his post at Eagle. Shapiro will continue at Dart in an advisory capacity while Steve Joseph continues as COO.
American Eurocopter (AEC) has received FAA Level B and night-vision goggle (NVG) training certification for its AS350 full flight simulator in Grand Prairie, Texas. And yesterday, AEC announced that it signed a simulator training contract with the Texas Department of Public Safety, covering dry lease of the AS350 simulator. This will allow the department’s instructors to train DPS pilots.
To signify their continuing evolution, Eurocopter is applying an “e” suffix to the latest variants of its helicopters. One of these evolved products, the AS350B3e, is at Heli-Expo 2011 on the Eurocopter display and shown here in an air-to-air factory publicity photo.
Able Aerospace, a Phoenix-based specialist in overhaul and repair of rotorcraft parts and components, explained how PHI achieved significant savings using Able Aerospace parts and services. PHI saved a total of $1.3 million in 2010, $110,000 by purchasing 95 Able Aerospace-manufactured parts plus another $800,000 through repair of components, rather than buying new OEM items, according to Bob DesRosiers, PHI head of procurement.
AgustaWestland’s AW169, introduced last summer at the Farnborough airshow, made its Heli-Expo debut today, and the Finmeccanica company says the program “is progressing as planned.” The new multipurpose twin will meet requirements for Category A, Class 1 operations and IFR single- and dual-pilot operations.
At its annual Whirly-Girls Awards Banquet on Saturday, the international women helicopter pilots organization presented 2011 scholarships totaling more than $50,000 to eight women. The scholarships were as follows:
· American Eurocopter Flight Training–Michelle Bostick, of Lithia, Fla., for an AS350 turbine helicopter transition course.