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Dubai Air Show 2017: Modest helicopter order book at show

20th November 2017 - 09:30 GMT | by Tim Martin in London


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With so many shows on the calendar now, a modest five helicopter orders for OEMs was a welcome buzz at the Dubai Airshow.

In addition, platform updates and type certifications made the headlines too - Airbus Helicopter detailed H160 progress and Bell Helicopter's 505 Jet Ranger X received EASA approval.

Abu Dhabi Aviation (ADA) – the biggest commercial rotorcraft operator in the Middle East – made a distinctive mark at the airshow by securing a contract for two additional Leonardo AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopters.

Both platforms will be offshore configured, with Leonardo saying in a company statement that deliveries are expected this year.

The order is part of an agreement between the pair for 15 helicopters including the AW139, AW169 and AW189 types. No changes have been made to an original delivery timeframe of 2019 for the fleet, which both parties agreed to in 2015.

However, sticking to on the ground developments in Dubai and the theme of offshore deliveries no less, Airbus Helicopters announced that Helicopter Travel Munich (HTM) is set to receive delivery of a H145 medium-sized twin-engine built in Donauwörth.

From January 2018, the German operator will reserve the model for offshore deployments over the North Sea. Before entering service, HTM will be equipping the platform with a rescue winch and flotation devices.

Offshore configurations of the H145 are something of a rarity - comparatively speaking - with the type mainly used for air rescue and police helicopter operations. Indeed, the first H145 customer was German air rescue operator DRF Luftrettung.     

According to figures provided by Airbus, H145s have flown more than 80,000 flight hours since 2014. As a collective unit (H145, EC145 and BK117) that number increases to over 4.8 million flight hours.

Abu Dhabi's private operator Falcon Aviation are also set to expand its AW169 helicopter fleet with the addition of a further three aircraft. 

The three helicopters will be acquired through operating lease and delivered by Leonardo and Milestone Aviation Group, the OEM announced.

The light-intermediate twin helicopters are to be reserved for multi-mission duties with entry into service in the first quarter of 2018.

With the addition of the three AW169s, Falcon Aviation’s fleet will include five AW169, two AW189 types and four Grand and GrandNew light-twin helicopters.

Airbus also publicised their signing of a MoU with Falcon. In short, the latter has agreed to add three additional Airbus H160 medium twin aircraft to an original LOI signed in May 2016.

‘We took the decision to increase our request following a flight demonstration where we got the opportunity to test the H160’s excellent passenger flight experience first-hand’ said Capt Raman Oberoi, COO of Falcon Aviation, in a statement.

H160 progress updates were also provided by Airbus and include three prototypes now in flight testing and service entry of 2019. ‘The helicopter’s final assembly line in Marignane, France is also in the final stages of preparation and will be ready to start serial production shortly,’ its statement explains.

Meanwhile, Indian-based Vectra are to take charge of a single Russian Helicopter Mi-171A2 medium utility type.

The OEM confirmed in a statement that customer delivery will take place in 2018. The agreement also allows Vectra the option of signing off on an additional model. 

The multirole helicopter is a modernised version of the Russian Helicopter Mi-8/17 series. The company also disclosed that there ‘are about 80 modifications in the Mi-171A2 design as compared to the baseline model.’

The Mi-8/17 platforms are renowned for their versatility and high flight characteristics. Numbers of type production and supply are upwards of 12,000 - extending to over 100 countries across the world.

Elsewhere, Bell took an opportunity to announce that it has increased its support in the UAE, approving ADA as an authorised customer facility. Representatives of both parties were on hand to formally sign off on the new deal.

Bell also confirmed that their 505 Jet Ranger X has received EASA certification.

The latest stamp of approval follows similar international certifications from civil authorities in the US, Australia, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, Argentina and Japan.

Speaking about the development Glenn Isbell, executive VP, customer support and services at Bell, said in a company statement, ‘We are hosting our first Bell 505 European operators this month at our Bell Training Academy in Fort Worth and the first aircraft in the region is scheduled to be delivered at the beginning of 2018.’

The 505 Jet Ranger X – which made its maiden flight in 2014 – signified Bell’s re-entry into the light single market after production of the 206 JetRanger came to a halt in 2010.

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