Heli USA, the third largest helicopter tour operator in Las Vegas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month in a move the company asserts was triggered by a commercial dispute with AgustaWestland over leased helicopters. Heli USA had stopped making lease payments after it claimed the Italian airframer failed to deliver a trio of helicopters with ordered equipment, including sightseeing windows and in-flight entertainment systems. Heli USA filed for Chapter 11 in a bid to stop AgustaWestland from repossessing the aircraft.
The operation of a number of weekend-only test routes developed as part of Europe’s Single European Sky ATM Research (Sesar) project have proved their value in time and fuel savings. The routes all departed Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport headed for eight Italian cities. The Weekend Free Route for Environmental Efficiency (We Free) routes linked Paris with Rome, Milan, Venice, Turin, Verona, Genoa, Bologna and Pisa.
India’s attorney general, Goolamhussein Essaji Vahanvati, ruled last week that AgustaWestland breached contractual obligations and an associated “integrity pact” in winning a $787 million contract to supply 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2010, raising the possibility the government will cancel the deal.
AgustaWestland expects that its 16- to 18-passenger AW189 medium-twin helicopter will be EASA certified by year-end. Four prototypes and two pre-production aircraft have logged a combined 1,900 flight hours, it said. Certification, once hoped for this summer, is now “very close,” according to a company spokesman. The first delivery, to offshore operator Bristow, is scheduled to take place by year-end, he told AIN.
An order for as many as 35 AgustaWestland AW139 medium helicopters, which might be produced by the Helivert joint factory with Russian Helicopters, hit a snag in late August. Negotiations between the Russian Defense Ministry and AgustaWestland spilled into the press, with deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov telling the country’s news agency Itar-Tass, “It’s a very expensive machine. If they cut the price, then we can return to the issue,” giving the distinct impression that a decision had already been made to pass on the $671 million order.
The corruption trial of former AgustaWestland CEOs Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini is set to resume this month, with defense lawyers prepared to call an international witness list of top government officials and industry leaders. The men are charged with orchestrating bribes in connection with the sale of 12 AW101s to the government of India in 2010 when Orsi was CEO of Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland and Spagnolini was his deputy.
Alenia Aermacchi and U.S. manufacturer ATK said they completed first-phase ground and flight tests of a multi-mission version of the C-27J airlifter equipped with a gun system pallet. At a Paris Air Show briefing last month, the companies displayed video from the test series from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, this spring, showing a technician firing an ATK GAU-23 30mm cannon from the aft port side of the aircraft. “The test events were designed and certified by the U.S.
AgustaWestland announced several AW139 orders and an AW189 milestone at Paris 2013. The Finmeccanica company (Chalets A232, A260) signed a contract for the sale of its first AW139 medium twin-engine helicopter in Senegal. The contract includes in-country support services and training for both aircrew and maintainers. The helicopter will be operated by Senegal’s air force.
Survival systems specialist Aero Sekur (Hall 1 F24) is highlighting major new contracts for the company’s floatation and external liferaft systems. The company is also opening a new repair and overhaul joint venture and it has increased its international presence and appointed a new COO, Marco Borghesi.
AgustaWestland (Booth 7070) has received orders from Russia and the British Isles for VIP-configured helicopters.
Exclases Russia inked a contract for five AW139 medium twins–in a mix of VIP and utility layouts. HeliVert, a Russian Helicopters and AgustaWestland joint venture located in Tomilino near Moscow, will produce the AW139s. The deal is a follow-on to a previous agreement, which calls for one AW139 to be delivered in June. Exclases also has ordered a GrandNew light twin in VIP transport configuration.