Eurocopter has delivered 2 EC225s to offshore operator Héli-Union increasing the total number of helicopters operated by Héli-Union to 30. The EC225 is configured for offshore work and will provide transportation services for oil and gas companies, carrying up to 19 passengers.

Bell has announced an increase of 500 lbs allowable gross weight for the model 429, increasing to max gross weight of 7500 lbs. The weight increase was approved by Transport Canada. It will allow for an increase in fuel load for longer loiter times for law enforcement. Alternatively, it will allow installation of additional equipment which could include HTAWS, a radar altimeter and/or cockpit voice/data recorder. Bell says the weight increase will be available for retrofit for the existing 429 fleet.

AgustaWestland's AW189 took to the air for the first time in December. Seating capacity will range from 12 passengers in the ultralong-range configuration to 18 passengers in the high-density setup. In the SAR role, mission equipment can include single or dual hoists, FLIR, searchlight, radar, mission consoles and stretchers.

Sikorsky has completed production of a new S92 for CHC Helicopter for the Irish Coast Guard. It is configured for the dedicated search-and-rescue mission for rough deep water rescue requirements and will replace the S61 currently in service for the Irish Coast Guard. The helicopter comes with AFCS enabling the pilot to preprogram search patterns and hover maneuvers. Rescue swimmers and pilots will be able to communicate through a wireless intercom system. IR sensors and Spectrolab searchlight will assist in rescue efforts.

AgustaWestland and CAE, parent companies of the Rotorsim consortium, inaugurated the joint NH90 training program for the Netherlands Ministry of Defense (MoD) and other NH90 operators in Sesto Calende, Italy on Nov 14, 2011. Launch of the new training program signals the expansion into the military training market by providing training in the full-mission flight trainer (FMFT) which can be reconfigured between the NH90 tactical transport helicopter (TTH) and NATO frigate helicopter (NFH) variant. The Netherlands MoD and Military Aviation Authority have recently qualified the training device to level C with level D certification expected. Training is scheduled to begin early this year. (Photo L–R) AgustaWestland Senior VP Training John Ponsonby and COO Daniele Romiti, Netherlands MoD NH90 Program Mgr Col Jan Verhulst, Rotorsim COO Craig Zysk and CAE VP Sales Europe Ulrich Aderhold.

The US Army National Guard is to receive 39 additional UH72A Lakotas. EADS North America has been awarded a $212-million contract for security and support (S&S) battalion mission equipment package (MEP) configured helicopters, which will allow state, local law enforcement and homeland security agencies to respond to natural disasters and security or border operations. Equipment includes an electro-optical IR sensor, 30-million-candlepower searchlight, analog/digital video downlink, rear observer console with 15-in display, enhanced tactical communications suite, onboard digital video recorder, video management system and 10.4-in pilot and copilot displays.

Kagoshima Intl Aviation of Japan took delivery of an AgustaWestland GrandNew light twin in EMS configuration for the Kagoshima Prefecture in southern Japan. An AW­109 Power is already in service with an EMS configuration as a back­up to the GrandNew. The GrandNew comes equipped with a new EFIS featuring synthetic vision.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has certified the Aviation Industry Corp AC313. Beijing released information on the large 13-ton helicopter stating that it can perform emergency rescue operations, firefighting missions, personnel transport, offshore operations and EMS.