AgustaWestland will open a second production line for the new AW169 medium-twin helicopter at its manufacturing facility in Philadelphia, the company announced today. The primary production line for the AW169 will remain at the company’s plant in Vergiate, Italy. Four examples of the 9,000-pound class helicopter are currently in flight-test, with certification expected next year.
Though its parent company Finmeccanica yesterday reported €786 million in losses last year, subsidiary AgustaWestland posted strong 2012 results that included revenues of €4.2 billion, new orders of €4 billion and an accumulated backlog of €11.87 billion, as well as earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation of €473 million. The helicopter manufacturer’s results reflected marginally improved results over its 2011 performance and also reflected a slight increase in research and development spending, to €506 million.
AgustaWestland and Embraer have terminated joint-venture discussions for helicopter production in Brazil. The companies issued a joint statement yesterday announcing the decision, but declined to provide reasons why talks collapsed.
Milestone Aviation Group, the helicopter leasing firm that was co-founded in August 2010 by airplane fractional program pioneer Richard Santulli, has quickly grown to mammoth size. The Dublin, Ireland-based company said its fleet, which ranges from light-twin to heavy helicopters, now includes more than 90 aircraft from AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky worth more than $1.3 billion.
The strong business aviation presence at Malaysia’s LIMA air show held last month on the island of Langkawi was testament to the fact that the industry’s growth in the Asia Pacific region extends well beyond China.
When Bell Helicopter sold its remaining stake in the BA609 civil tiltrotor program to partner AgustaWestland about two years ago, industry analysts figured that Bell was exiting this niche market. But might not be the case, since Bell unveiled a next-generation tiltrotor–the Bell V-280 Valor–yesterday at the Army Aviation Association of America (Quad A) convention in Fort Worth, Texas.
Paris-based helicopter brokerage Heli Asset has launched a free quarterly pricing reporting service on pre-owned rotorcraft. Available on the company’s website, the initial reports for the first quarter of this year provide snapshots of the market for helicopters from the four major OEMs: AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter and Sikorsky. The company, a spin-off of aircraft sales firm Regourd Aviation, was launched at last year’s Heli-Expo and operates internationally.
Reorganization of Great Britain’s police helicopter bases is well under way, in a campaign to provide “more efficient and accessible” air support to police forces in England and Wales. Although the number of bases is being cut, the improved efficiency of the system should eventually ensure that 98 percent of the population is within 20 minutes’ flight time of a base.
The FAA has adopted a new Airworthiness Directive (AD) for all AgustaWestland A109, A109A, A109A II, A109C, A109K2, A109E, A109S and A119 helicopters. It was prompted by the failure of the tail rotor pitch control link assembly on an A109E, caused by a production defect. The AD requires inspecting the link assembly for freedom of movement and taking corrective action if rotation resistance or binding occurs.
UK-based Bristow Helicopters, an affiliate of the Texas-based Bristow Group, today announced a 10-year contract with the UK’s Department for Transport for search-and-rescue (SAR) services for all of the country. The $2.5 billion agreement has a phased-in transition period beginning in April 2015 and continuing until July 2017.
Under the contract, Bristow will provide 11 Sikorsky S-92s and 11 AgustaWestland AW189 medium-twin helicopters across 10 UK bases. Each SAR base will operate either two S-92s or two AW189s. In addition, there will be two training aircraft.