“Why don’t my Bell colleagues take this question?” AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi suggested when asked why Bell would not accept his company’s additional money into the protracted BA609 Tiltrotor program, during a press conference on Wednesday here at the Paris Air Show.
The BA 609 Tiltrotor is making its flying debut here at Le Bourget. Bell/Agusta Aerospace has brought the second prototype to Paris after it made its first public appearance late last month at an Italian air show. Potential European customers have recently expressed concern about the aircraft’s cost of ownership. Its U.S.-Italian manufacturer might thus hope to convince them about its unique capabilities by showcasing it here.
AgustaWestland has won a contract from the UK government’s cabinet office to supply resilience training. These services will be provided as part of the Project Gold Standard, which aims at effective management of emergencies and disasters. AgustaWestland will teach strategic Gold commanders using courses, simulation and exercises. The first Gold Standard Exercise is pegged for June 25.
Getting in some early practice is this Eurocopter EC 665 Tigre, one of 24 rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft that will be flying in the daily display here. Among other rotary-wing aircraft are the Bell/Agusta BA 609 tiltrotor and NH Industries NH90T.
Early in the second quarter, Bell/Agusta Aerospace reported that the BA609 civil tiltrotor program had logged 137 flights and 159 flight hours on ship 001, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and 14 flights and 14 flight hours on ship 002 in Cameri, Italy. The flight envelope reached 310 ktas, 25,000 feet and 35 knots in rearward and sideward flight. The longest single flight was 1.7 hours.
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.