The fortunes of the Bell/Agusta BA609 are closely linked to those of the U.S. Marines’ MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor transport, still grounded following a pair of well-publicized fatal accidents and even more sensational charges of records falsification and related wrongdoing by senior Marine program managers.
Texas Aviation Services in Fort Worth has teamed with Brazilian aviation consultant Sierra Aeronautica of São Paulo for the completion and importation of executive, emergency medical service and utility helicopters into Brazil.
With its acquisition of Italian counterpart Elilario, Spanish operator Grupo Inaer has become one of Europe’s largest helicopter operators, with a fleet of nearly 220 rotorcraft. The deal is valued at ?60.8 million ($91 million). Whether the new entity will be called Elilario or Inaer Italy has yet to be decided.
British International has ambitions to introduce scheduled services in the UK within the next 10 years using the proposed Bell/Agusta BA619 tiltrotor airliner. The company’s managing director, David Hayler, told AIN “The future regional airliner is the tiltrotor,” and his 10-year vision sees use of a 19-seat stretched development of the BA609, soon to begin flight trials.
For the helicopter owner, operator or flight program looking to cut costs while simultaneously maintaining or expanding existing levels of service, Agusta’s A119 Koala may be the answer. Certified in 1999, the single-engine Koala has many of the same capabilities of, and in fact is faster than, most light twins.
The third and final pre-production Bell/Agusta AB139 has begun its flight-test program at Agusta’s Vergiate plant in Italy. Under way since prototype one made its maiden flight in February, the AB139 flight-test program, which now numbers three prototypes and a so-called tiedown helicopter (TDH) ground-test item, has logged more than 100 flight hours.
Helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland is here showing a mockup of an AW101 cabin in a luxury layout, probably the ultimate for a VVIP helicopter, as it is the heaviest civil helicopter available in the Western world. “This is just one of the possible layouts in such a roomy cabin,” an AgustaWestland spokesman told EBACE Convention News.
While its bigger cousin in the Marines stays grounded, work on the civil tiltrotor is proceeding in the same Bell Helicopter hangars from which the first prototype V-22 Ospreys rolled out some 13 years ago in Arlington, Texas.
Russian aerospace conglomerate Oboronprom has begun cooperating with European rotorcraft manufacturer Agusta- Westland (Booth No. 7550) in helicopter maintenance, production and distribution–with a 10-aircraft order as a starter.
AgustaWestland and Italian-based helicopter operator Alitalica have signed an agreement to establish “the first helicopter hub in Italy” at Rome Urbe downtown airport. AgustaWestland will be in charge of the maintenance center and will therefore build new hangars. Meanwhile, Alitalica will set up a FBO, offer passenger transport and market corporate helicopter management services.