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AIR FORCE MAGAZINE NEWS – 20 May 2019

Link to original online article by John A. TIRPAK / Air Force Magazine: http://airforcemag.com/Features/Pages/2019/May%202019/Boeing-Gearing-Up-for-MH-139-Test-Models-Production.aspx

The first MH-139 for the Air Force—which replaces the UH-1N Huey in the roles of nuclear missile field support, VIP transport, and some other missions—is in production at Agusta-Westland facilities north of St. Louis, Mo., and if there are no hiccups, it will fly by the end of the year, Boeing officials reported. The Agusta-Westland facility, part of Boeing’s major subcontractor, Leonardo, will assemble the fuselage, put on the rotors, and essentially build a civilian version of the aircraft, Rick Lemaster, company director of vertical lift marketing, told reporters in a briefing at Boeing’s Philadelphia, Pa., helicopter factory on May 16. It is then handed over to Boeing, which militarizes it for the Air Force’s unique missions. Boeing will convert the vanilla aircraft into an MH-139 by changing the baggage door compartment to “allow some special equipment to be installed” that the Air Force declines to identify. Defensive aids, such as flare dispensers and missile warning systems will be added, as will the machine gun mount and a “crashworthy, self-sealing fuel tank,” Lemaster explained.  Additionally, ballistic protection will be added to the floor and cockpit. Once complete, the aircraft will receive USAF certification and fly off to their duty station. Lemaster said the Air Force will likely “turn on production in the next year or two, and once that happens the company anticipates to deliver about 10 aircraft per year into the early 2030s. The numbers may vary, as USAF’s contract allows for more or less aircraft each year. The MH-139 is a $2.38 billion firm, fixed-price contract program, of which $375 million gets the ball rolling with engineering and manufacturing development. Although the Air Force quoted a figure of $1.7 billion in savings when it announced Boeing had won the UH-1N replacement contest last fall, Boeing’s number is more conservative, Lemaster said. “We said we could save $1 billion, in terms of overall life cycle costs, or compared to competitors. That was our calculation, between support cost and acquisition.” The big discriminator between Boeing and its chief rival, the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky Blackhawk, was the fact that the Air Force didn’t need a larger, combat-capable aircraft, he said. “This aircraft is relatively easy to maintain compared to competitors,” Lemaster said. The MH-139 is “not as big and heavy as a Blackhawk,” which he called “a great capability, great in combat, but that’s not what the Air Force requirement was.” Boeing’s approach was to offer an aircraft that is “right-sized for the mission,” Lemaster asserted. The first two aircraft are to be delivered in late 2020. They will then enter a test program, and if all goes well, operational testing will be in 2022, followed by full-rate production in 2023. The Air Force will buy at least 84 MH-139s. Armed versions with an M240 machine gun externally mounted on the starboard side will be fielded by three Air Force Global Strike Command bases, each with 11 aircraft to rapidly respond to threats at missile fields and provide other support for the ICBM mission. Some 30 aircraft will be based at JB Andrews, Md., for VIP transport. Four aircraft each will support VIP and aeromedical evacuation missions at Yokota AB, Japan, and the Air Force survival, evasion, resistance, and escape school at Fairchild AFB, Wash. The MH-139 “schoolhouse” at Kirtland AFB, N.M., will get the remainder, minus the two initial aircraft, which will stay at Eglin AFB, Fla., for ongoing test of modifications and software.
Lemaster said the AW-139, on which the MH-139 is based, is in service with 250 customers in 70 nations, and the fleet has accumulated more than two million flight hours, “So it’s a very mature product,” allowing Boeing to quote fixed-price support costs. The Air Force plans to fly the aircraft 480 hours per year, each. The highest-time version of the aircraft has just reached 12,000 flight hours, so it will be a long time before the Air Force will need to think about the MH-139’s replacement, Lemaster said.
“There is no airframe life limit, so there’s no requirement to take it back to a depot and do modifications,” he noted. Having succeeded in running over an hour with no transmission oil—a “run dry” test, Lemaster said, “It’s just a very survivable aircraft.” Additionally, the helicopter has been certified for one pilot under instrument flight rules, meaning the service could optionally relax its two-pilot requirement down the road, he said. For ease of maintainability, the engine and transmission are above the cabin, and built-in foot stands allow preflight inspections without putting a hardstand next to the aircraft, he said. There’s “one contiguous open space” in the cabin, offering flexibility of use. Although the engines don’t have infrared suppressors, the exhaust heat is fairly low, without intense hotspots that would make a good infrared target. Lemaster said he thinks the first batch of aircraft will be a run of eight, but “there’s a lot of flexibility in the way the contract is structured, so they can add or subtract the quantity. We’ve given them firm pricing for all of those iterations, and they’ll buy what they want.”

Link to original online article by Air Force Magazine: http://airforcemag.com/Features/Pages/2019/May%202019/Boeing-Gearing-Up-for-MH-139-Test-Models-Production.aspx

Airbus Helicopters H175 Photo Page
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HELI IMAGE OF THE DAY

Thanks to Andreas HOFFMANN for these new images of the Airbus Helicopters H175 PH-OSF operated by Heli Holland Offshore on behalf of NHC Northern Helicopter … Emden Airport, March 2019.

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Airbus Helicopters H175 Photo Page

Thanks to Christoph BRAUN for this new action shot of the Airbus Helicopters H175 PH-OSF operated by Heli Holland Offshore on behalf of NHC Northern Helicopter … Emden Airport, March 2019.

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Leonardo Helicopters AW139 ( c/n 31851 ) N139EX

Thanks to Luigi PISANO for this unique image of the factory new Leonardo Helicopters AW139 N139EX operated by Saudi Aramco, wearing new company color scheme. On delivery via Milan Malpensa, April 2019.

Thanks to Oscar BERNARDI for this image of the Leonardo Helicopters AW139 registered I-EASM [later N139EX] while performing pre-delivery flights in Venegono (VA), March 2019.

PRESS RELEASE – LANGKAWI, 27th March – Weststar Aviation Services, a leading regional offshore helicopter transportation services provider, and Leonardo signed a contract – valued at around 50 million euros – for three new-generation AW169 and two AW139 helicopters for offshore operations in West Africa and the Middle East.

The contract signing ceremony was held today at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) in the presence of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. The three AW169s helicopters will be for Weststar’s ExxonMobil & Noble contract in Equatorial Guinea while the two AW139s are for the Al-Khafji Joint Operations contract in Saudi Arabia, which is a joint venture between Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (KGOC) and Aramco Gulf Operations. “This procurement further strengthens the partnership between Weststar Aviation Services and Leonardo and is a key factor in Weststar’s overseas business expansion. The AW169 and the AW139 twin-engine helicopters are the most successful new generation models in their class worldwide, and the most demanded helicopter types in the Oil and Gas industry. We are pleased to purchase yet more helicopters from Leonardo to support our offshore helicopter operations and we will use the newly purchased helicopters for our operations in West Africa and the Middle East.“ said Tan Sri Dr. Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim, Group Managing Director of The Weststar Group.

Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, said: “Weststar is one of our most important helicopter customers worldwide and we are happy to confirm our leading position in the offshore market in the region. There are now over 60 Leonardo helicopters in Malaysia, where we have our regional Customer Support and Training hub, and we plan to increase our presence even further in the future by expanding the services we offer.”

Since commencing its operations in 2003, Weststar Aviation Services has grown to become one of the global key players in the offshore helicopter industry. To date, Weststar Aviation Services operates a total of 33 AW139, AW169 and AW189 helicopters out of its bases in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

The AW139 and AW169 are part of Leonardo’s Family of new generation helicopters that also includes the AW189. These models are ideal for passenger transport, EMS and SAR missions. Leonardo has a long-standing presence in Malaysia with a large fleet of helicopters – both commercial and military – defence, security and airport systems.

  • AW189s recently delivered to Malaysian and Seoul Fire Departments with Japan to follow
  • Leonardo AW139, AW169 and AW189 rapidly becoming a standard for emergency management in Asia
  • Asia Pacific is the fastest growing market for helicopters globally and Leonardo is well positioned thanks to its range of new generation helicopters

Rome, 25 March 2019 – With deliveries across Asia Pacific the Leonardo AW189 super medium helicopter is becoming the leader in the firefighting market. The Malaysia Fire and Rescue Department (Jabatan Bomba dan Penyelamat Malaysia) and Korea’s Seoul Fire Department are beginning operations with their AW189s and will soon be followed by the Tokyo Fire Department. Asia Pacific is the region with the strongest growth prospects for all of Leonardo’s aerospace and defence capabilities. In the helicopter sector, public utility operations such as firefighting, search and rescue and disaster relief capabilities are quickly growing and Leonardo is successfully targeting the requirements with the AW139, AW169 and AW189 helicopters. These models join an already impressive fleet of Leonardo helicopters across countries in the region with Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and Australia being markets where Leonardo is leading in many sectors.

Leonardo was the world’s number one civil helicopter manufacturer in terms of value in 2018 with a 40% market share, a 7% increase on 2017.

Leonardo continues to play a major role in the Malaysian helicopter market expanding its presence and increasing its capabilities through a continued plan of investment. With a regional hub for Customer Support and Training near Kuala Lumpur, Leonardo has been present in the region for many years with hundreds of helicopters performing missions such as offshore and passenger transport, utility, homeland security, law enforcement, search and rescue, emergency medical services, maritime patrol, military naval roles and armed reconnaissance. Additionally, Leonardo is providing a range of security and defence capabilities to the Malaysian government and products, such as air traffic control systems to commercial customers.

ITALIAN Helicopter REGISTER NEWS
Schweizer SH300C ( S-1412)  N26ZZ

Thanks to Fabio BALDI for this image of the Schweizer SH300C ( S-1412) N26ZZ registered to Sky West Aviation Inc … previously operated as I-EXPR. Costigliole d’Asti (AT), March 2019.

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Eurocopter BK117C1 ( c/n 7553 ) D-HAOS
Eurocopter BK117 Photo Page
Eurocopter BK117C1 ( c/n 7553 ) D-HAOS
Eurocopter BK117 Photo Page
Eurocopter BK117C1 ( c/n 7553 ) D-HAOS

Thanks to Andreas HOFFMANN and Christoph BRAUN for the images of this
Eurocopter BK117C1 ( c/n 7553 ) registered D-HAOS, currently operated by Heli-Service Gmbh. The helicopter was previously operated on behalf of Police of North Rhine Westphalia department and registered D-HNWP.

  • Kopter to take over a 84,700 sq. ft. facility located at Lafayette Airport
  • Creation of 120 jobs by 2025 for production of around 100 aircrafts per year

Heli-Expo, Atlanta, March 5, 2019 – During an event taking place today at Heli-Expo, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Kopter Group’s CEO Andreas Löwenstein jointly announced that Kopter will establish a new production facility for its SH09 helicopter in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Discover our video at: https://koptergroup.com/videos/10

Kopter will lease a 84,700 sq. ft. facility from the Lafayette Airport Commission, which owns the stateof-the-art helicopter assembly buildings. This future production and support center comes in addition to the already existing and soon to be expanded Kopter sites in Switzerland, and will serve customers throughout the Americas. It is planned that it will ultimately source from U.S. suppliers parts representing more than 50 percent of the SH09’s value.

The State of Louisiana initially funded construction of the $25.3 million Lafayette facility on a 14.7-acre airport site. Kopter plans to make an important additional capital investment in new equipment and building extensions. Kopter will begin hiring of personnel later this year and prepare operations by mid-2020. Deliveries of locally assembled helicopters will start in 2021. Kopter intends to create at least 120 new direct jobs by 2025 in Lafayette, while production should ramp up to an anticipated volume of around 100 SH09 per year.

“We are delighted that Kopter chose Louisiana and Lafayette for the assembly of a dynamic new aerospace product,” Gov. Edwards said. “The SH09 helicopter will be highly competitive in the marketplace and provide outstanding performance, great passenger and cargo capacity, and superior engineering and design. Kopter could have chosen any location in North America to assemble this new helicopter. Louisiana’s outstanding workforce and facility assets, and our competitive business climate, make Lafayette the clear choice for Kopter’s future in the Americas.”

“Kopter Group chose the Lafayette site for several reasons,” Löwenstein said. “First, because of Louisiana, which is a rapidly growing and attractive region and already hosting several key helicopter operators and many industrial players. Second, for the easy access to a qualified workforce and a high-quality educational environment. And third, for the facility itself, which meets the highest standards and allows almost instant operations. Its location on the airport provides an ideal production environment, with quick and easy logistics and commercial access.”

In the framework of a thorough site selection process, Kopter Group conducted formal discussions with Louisiana Economic Development (LED) for several months. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package.

Kopter joins now a growing list of companies active in the helicopter sector in Louisiana, including offshore operators Bristow Group, Era Helicopters, PHI Inc. and RLC; and the medical air transport leader Metro Aviation.

This major step for Kopter’s development in the US follows the formation in July 2018 of a fully owned US subsidiary, Kopter North America LLC. Christian Gras is the CEO of this subsidiary – in addition to his responsibilities as Executive Vice-President for Kopter Group – and Larry Roberts the President Sales, Marketing & Customer support.