The first AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter assembled in Russia flew last month, Helivert, a joint venture between AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters, announced Tuesday. The 37-minute maiden sortie took place on December 19 at Russian Helicopters’ “National Helicopter Building Center” in Tomilino, near Moscow.
AgustaWestland’s new eight-ton medium-heavy twin recently completed high/hot testing in Arizona, Colorado and Texas and now heads north. The company expects certification in this year’s second half. AgustaWestland has logged orders for approximately 60 of the new helicopters, primarily from the oil and gas market.
AgustaWestland is giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas, a senior executive told AIN last month. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland TiltRotor Co., said that initially the aircraft will be built partially in Italy and the U.S. but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly will be “driven by the customer base.” Some 35 percent of that customer base, he noted, is predicted to be in the U.S.
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.