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SKILFUL

Agusta Westland's AW109 Grand New was launched at Heli-Expo

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ccording to HAI President, Matt Zuccaro, it was the corporate and VIP market that was hardest hit by the economic slump. A further catalyst to decreased sales and utilisation was the negative publicity campaign recently waged against all forms of business aircraft. This demonisation of a core industry segment has seen sales of new corporate helicopters plummet to rock bottom levels, while resulting in a large number of very low time VIP helicopters being sold back into the market. This will inevitably affect new helicopter sales

for some time to come, even once the market steadies, by allowing corporate flight departments to scoop up low time airframes sold during the darker days. In the military, oil, gas, and emergency medical services sectors, however, the markets were booming, with the majority of manufacturers relying on these parapublic entities for continuous positive sales figures. It was uncharacteristic of Eurocopter not to unveil at least one new type at Heli-Expo, though, at Eurocopter’s press breakfast, CEO Lutz Bertling did let on that they would most probably be launching two new types at the 2011 show. When pressed for more details he

declined, but did advise attendees to keep their eyes open for test flights in Europe first. With the focus on saving, improving and investing, under the banner of innovation, Eurocopter unveiled its cutting-edge rotor blade technologies, Blue Edge and Blue Pulse, which reduce rotor noise by over 50 percent and totally remove the familiar blade-slap produced by helicopters in certain phases of flight – part of Eurocopter’s push for a greener footprint on all levels. Going hand in hand with this was the new diesel engine for helicopters, currently under development. Although not powerful enough for its larger models, the diesel engine on display was perfectly suited to the lighter EC120 and 130 models. Eurocopter also used Heli-Expo to display its full-scale EC175 mock-up, this year in its search and rescue guise, featuring a full 360-degree search radar, an electro-optical system, high intensity searchlight, dual class-one rescue hoists and bubble windows. The medium twin is ideally suited to SAR missions thanks to its large sliding doors and cavernous interior able to accommodate multiple casualties and medical equipment. Thus far Eurocopter has taken 114 pre-orders for the EC175 and anticipates certification in 2011 and first deliveries in 2012. In its corporate/VIP configuration, the EC175 has nearly no equals, and the manufacturer is looking forward to the expected resurgence in those markets, something that could see this seven metric ton, sixteen seater leading the way. AgustaWestland used Heli-Expo 2010 to launch its AW109 Grand New. Described by head of marketing, Roberto Garavaglia, as a “step change follow-on to the AW109S Grand,” the new helicopter is already EASA certified, with FAA certification pending at time of going to press. Powered by the same Pratt and Whitney Canada PW207C turbines as

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