AgustaWestland recently disclosed it is moving production of the A119 Koala single-engine helicopter from Italy to Philadelphia. Flanked by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell and local politicians, company officials broke ground on March 2 on a manufacturing and final assembly plant at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, where about 20 Koalas will be built each year.
Bell Helicopter was at last month’s Heli-Expo in Las Vegas in force as usual, with a 412 and a 407 on display at its booth. At the static area, the Texas-based helicopter manufacturer had several new-design 427 mockups, an Eagle Eye UAV and a Bell 430. Another 430, along with a 427 and 407, was also available for customer flights from the convention center.
Last June Bell/Agusta completed initial testing of its BA609 civil tiltrotor at Bell’s Fort Worth, Texas flight-test center. At the time, project test pilot Roy Hopkins said he was particularly impressed by the tiltrotor’s handling qualities. Over nine flights of the BA609, Hopkins, accompanied by flight test pilot Dwayne Williams, logged 14 hours in helicopter mode.
fter flying the Bell/Agusta AB139, it is easy to see why Amedeo Caporaletti, president of Agusta and CEO of AgustaWestland, believes that this helicopter sets new standards for medium twins. The 13,227-pound-mtow AB139 meets the stringent standards imposed by both the European JARs and FAR Part 29, including all amendments.
The BA609 Tiltrotor program is continuing slowly toward certification, now planned for 2010. At Heli-Expo, a Bell spokesman confirmed that the company has applied to the FAA for a type certificate, which usually signifies serious intent because it starts the clock on the certification deadline (three years for Part 23, five years for Part 25), and it took orders for two more BA609s at the show.
Sloane Helicopters has received Part 145 approval for its new maintenance facility at Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The facility is certified to deliver base maintenance for Robinson R22s and R44s. It can also perform line maintenance on Bell 206s and Agusta A119s and A109s. The 13,000-sq-ft hangar will serve operators in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
At Farnborough, AgustaWestland unveiled yet another, long-anticipated evolution of the A109–a stretched and higher-power model dubbed the A109S Grand. Leonardo Monti, who leads the company’s civil marketing effort, described the eight-seat, 7,000-pound aircraft as “an intermediate twin with light-twin economics.”
Agusta delivered a new A109 Power to the national police of Slovenia. The helicopter, which will be based at Brnik Airport near capital Ljubljana, is valued at $7.2 million. According to Agusta, the 160-knot speed of the new helicopter (the fifth acquisition of the Slovene police air fleet) will significantly cut the air unit’s intervention time.
By launching the IFR version of its 427 model at Heli-Expo, in Las Vegas in March, Bell Helicopter finally acknowledged its mistakes in introducing the type in the first place, almost 10 years before.
Malaysia’s deputy prime minister has acknowledged the need for the government to acquire helicopters configured to conduct search-and-rescue missions. Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in Kuala Lumpur, “We recognize the fact that we do not have dedicated SAR helicopters. Instead, we have utility helicopters that are used for multiple purposes.”