Rolls-Royce has signed an MOU with RotorWay Intl to develop a new helicopter around the RR300, one of the engine manufacturer's latest powerplants. Launched during Heli-Expo 2007, the RR300 turboshaft achieved production certification earlier this year. Rolls-Royce developed the engine-a derivative of its Model 250 line-in cooperation with Robinson Helicopters to power the R66. (L-R) Rolls-Royce Helicopter Engines Pres Kenneth Roberts and RotorWay CEO Grant Norwitz seal the deal on the RR300 at EAA AirVenture on Jul 28.

American Eurocopter has been awarded a contract for $150 million to supply US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) with additional AS350B3 AStars. The contract, signed by the Dept of Homeland Security, covers an unspecified number of helicopters. American Eurocopter plans to deliver the first of an initial 17 AS350B3s in 2009, and says its target is to deliver new helicopters to CBP at a rate of 1 every 45 days once it achieves rate production.

FAA has awarded Chelton Flight Systems an STC for installing electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) software/hardware upgrades on the Eurocopter EC120B. The STC covers Chelton EFIS software version 6.0B and air data and attitude heading reference system (ADAHRS) upgrades. Chelton Dir of Marketing Rob Creighton explains that all Chelton EFIS displays come standard with version 5.0C software, and notes that the optional 6.0B upgrade will cost about $2000. Version 6.0B is the first Chelton software to incorporate automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B), says Creighton. It also supports WSI weather and Class A or B helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), and has an improved terrain database and expanded hover vector.

Bell Helicopter is expanding its military aircraft assembly center at AMA (Intl, Amarillo TX) facility. This 176,000 sq ft expansion accommodates increased production for the H1 and V22 tiltrotor programs. When construction is complete in Jul 2009, Bell says it will be able to produce V22s at a rate of 40 per year.

Kaman has delivered the 1st of 2 K-MAX helicopters to Lockheed Martin under an agreement signed in 2007 to develop and market a manned/unmanned helicopter. The concept is to deliver a multimission capable helicopter that can work either as a manned aircraft or as an unmanned utility helicopter. The K-MAX will be capable of delivering ammunition and supplies to frontline soldiers, carry sensor packages for scouting and surveillance missions or act as an attack helicopter. Working as either a manned or unmanned system, the helicopter is flexible to mission requirements and will be able to deliver supplies 24/7 in high-risk climates.

The 2 refurbished K-MAX helicopters will be equipped with Lockheed Martin's KineForce mission management software. Development of the system, including installment of mission software and hardware, will take place at Lockheed Martin's Owego NY facility. Kaman and Lockheed Martin demonstrated an unmanned K-MAX to the US Army in April. Piloted by voice and data from a controller on the ground, it was capable of maneuvering, picking up and delivering a payload. Kaman also demonstrated the ability of an unmanned K-MAX to loiter for 12 hours.

Bond Offshore Helicopters has signed new contracts with ConocoPhillips and Maersk Contractors UK and extended a third with BP Exploration. The company will now operate Eurocopter EC225s for ConocoPhillips and BP while flying 2 AS332L Super Puma Mk IIs for Maersk. The 3 contracts, which will be used in offshore oil drilling operations around Scotland, are worth around $456 million.