AgustaWestland flexed its market muscle yesterday, announcing orders for 46 helicopters and emphasizing that the commercial helicopters division of parent company Finnmecanica is now a separate business unit reporting directly to AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi.
Despite the Navy’s decision to scale back initial funding for the program, Lockheed Martin continues to ready a new facility opened last year in Owego, N.Y., that will integrate systems and outfit cabins on the VH-71, the much-anticipated replacement for the U.S. Presidential helicopter fleet. The popular name Kestrel has been suggested for the VH-71, but remains to be officially adopted by the Navy.
AgustaWestland often is overshadowed by that “other” major European helicopter manufacturer, cross-continent rival Eurocopter. But while Eurocopter outsells AgustaWestland (Booth No. 529) by a wide margin, it has yet to come up with an answer to the AW139 (although it hopes its new EC 175 will be a strong competitor) and has nothing like the BA609 tiltrotor on its drawing board–as far as we know.
Cabin entertainment equipment from Flight Display Systems (Booth No. 906) is now available as a factory option on the new Agusta A109S Grand. The system was developed in partnership with Northern Avionics of Milan, Italy, and, according to Flight Display president David Gray, a backlog of orders is already building at the company’s Alpharetta, Ga. facility.
Boeing and AgustaWestland (Booth No. 529) have signed a memorandum of understanding for joint work on the next-generation Chinook for the Italian Army. The deal could lead to similar joint opportunities in the future.
AgustaWestland is introducing an enhanced Koala, the AW119 Ke light single, as an evolution of the A119 Koala introduced in 1995 and certified in 2000.
Agusta A119, Mancos, Colo., June 30, 2005–The NTSB determined that the crash of the EMS A119 was caused by the loss of engine power for undetermined reasons and by the pilot’s inability to autorotate. A factor was the helicopter’s low altitude when power was lost. The A119 had arrived to pick up an injured logger. When it was about 220 feet above tree level, it “dropped straight down,” according to a fireman at the scene.
Agusta S.p.A., the Italian element of AgustaWestland, is suing the French procurement agency, the DGA, claiming that an unfair tender essentially eliminated the Milan-based company from the competition for helicopters for the French state.
AgustaWestland last month announced that its sales in India are growing, with seven deliveries last year (not all new rotorcraft), four planned this year and another 12 over the 2008-2009 period. In addition, Hindustan Construction has ordered a second Bell/Agusta BA609 Tiltrotor. Hong-Kong-based Sharp Ocean is now AgustaWestland’s distributor for India, Sri Lanka and The Maldives.
Bell Helicopter yesterday revealed it has discontinued the 417 development project, announced with much fanfare at last year’s Heli-Expo, where the company took deposits for 136 copies of the aircraft, which was based on the popular 407. Another point of discussion at this year’s event, held in Orlando, Fla., was Bell’s recent shakeup at the top.