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.”
The second prototype of the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor is now flying in airplane mode, after starting its flight test regimen in helicopter mode on November 9 last year. It operates from Cameri, an Italian Air Force airfield near Milan.
AgustaWestland announced that it has delivered an A119 Koala to the Royal Bafokeng nation in South Africa. The small, nearly 800-sq-mi country has a population of around 300,000 people. According to the company, the single-engine helicopter will be used as the personal transport of King Leruo Mototlegi and will also carry other VIPs. More than 100 A119s have been ordered by customers in more than 20 countries.
Bell Helicopter announced last month it is relocating its commercial business unit’s worldwide sales and marketing offices and the Bell Training Academy to the facility formerly occupied by Galaxy Aerospace/Gulfstream at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Texas.
The “Safety Bucks” program from insurer USAIG (United States Aircraft Insurance Group) has contributed more than $4.3 million over the last nine years to defray the training costs or participants in its Preferred Policyholder Program, according to figures released here at Heli-Expo.