A senior AgustaWestland executive told AIN late last week that the company was giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland Tilt-Rotor Co., said the aircraft initially would be built partially in Italy and the U.S., but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly would be “driven by the customer base” and that “35 percent of that is predicted to be in the United States.”
MHS Aviation, a charter and aircraft management provider based in Munich, Germany, recently signed up with Multi Service Aero. The company operates three Dornier 328s, two air ambulance-equipped Learjets (31 and 55 models), two Learjet 45XRs, one Learjet 60 and four helicopters (two AgustaWestland A109s, a Eurocopter AS350BE and a Bell LongRanger).
Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland has received $74 million from the UK Government Regional Growth Fund to help develop the AW609 civil tiltrotor and future tiltrotor designs. AW said it will work with the National Composites Centre, the University of Liverpool and key UK suppliers on the program. The tiltrotor is slated for certification in 2016. AgustaWestland said it would contribute more than $87 million to the program.
AgustaWestland is going glass in the AW119 single. On October 22 the company unveiled the AW119Kx, which features the Garmin G1000H integrated flight deck system with synthetic vision, moving map and highway in the sky and obstacle/terrain avoidance systems. Certification is scheduled for early next year. Life Flight Network is the launch customer, ordering 15 of the helicopters configured for helicopter EMS operations from its bases in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The helicopters will be outfitted to carry two patients.
The U.S. Navy released a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the long-delayed VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program on November 23. The draft RFP revives an acquisition program that was cancelled more than three years ago. The formal RFP is expected to follow early next year.
As India’s Ministry of Defense awaits a response from the Italian government on alleged irregularities in the award of a contract for 12 AgustaWestland AW101 VIP transport helicopters, the fallout from this affair may scupper the much larger reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) program. The Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec and Kamov Ka-226T are the final contenders for the 197-aircraft RSH program, which has already been delayed.
Lease Corporation International (LCI) has assigned several of the new-generation AgustaWestland helicopters that it ordered in February this year and expects initial deliveries to begin early next year. The company, which already has a diverse airliner leasing portofolio, is planning to place fresh orders with other rotorcraft manufacturers, according to CEO Mike Platt.
The U.S. Air Force issued a request for proposals (RFP) for its “high priority” combat rescue helicopter (CRH) acquisition on October 19. The RFP begins a second campaign to replace the service’s HH-60G Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopters. In 2009 the Pentagon cancelled the original replacement program, which had been awarded three years earlier to Boeing for the HH-47 Chinook, after successive contractor protests and delays.
AgustaWestland is teaming with Northrop Grumman on the latest Marine One competition.
Since 2002 the Navy has spent $3.4 billion researching the alternatives for a new fleet of helicopters for Marine Squadron HMX-1 to transport the President and other government VIPs. Now, as it starts the process anew (VXX), AgustaWestland announced that it will again enter the fray with its medium lift three-engine AW101, this time partnered with Northrop Grumman.
Italian aircraft interior specialist Mecaer Aviation Group (Booth No. 4538) is displaying a full-scale mock-up of its new VIP interior for the AgustaWestland AW169 here. Mecaer was previously selected by Eurocopter as the VIP interior system supplier for its EC145.