Helicopter manufacturers have come to EBACE 2007 riding high on the wave of some $732 million in new orders announced at the industry’s Heli-Expo held in Orlando, Florida, in March. They will be looking to chase more business here in Geneva, mindful of the latest market report from avionics and engine maker Honeywell, which has forecast an increased fleet replacement rate of 20 percent among European operators over the next five years.
AgustaWestland has announced orders for six AW139s in Australia. The Queensland Government and CHC, in New South Wales, have each purchased three of the medium twin helicopters. They will operate them in emergency medical and rescue services. The helicopter manufacturer has also won a contract from the Japan National Police Agency to supply five AW109 Power light twins for law-enforcement missions.
Last Friday morning the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor flew over Central Texas with its outboard nacelles rotating forward to full airplane mode for the first time. BA609 project pilot Roy Hopkins and Bell pilot Jim Lindsey said the powered-lift aircraft reached 190 knots in this configuration.
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.”