Sikorsky delivered the 1st of 16 S92s to the Avincis Group—a UK-based mission-critical service provider—on Feb 7. The first 2 aircraft will be registered in Norway before being flown to ABZ (Aberdeen, Scotland). Initially, Norsk Helikopterservice (NHS) crews will operate them for Bond Helicopter Group customers in the North Sea. Bond and Norsk are both Avincis Group subsidiaries. The Avincis order for 16 aircraft was placed in Dec 2011 and is the largest single S92 purchase to date, according to Sikorsky. (Above) NHS Chairman & CEO Bjørn Seljevold speaks at the delivery ceremony at Coatesville PA.
Utah Highway Patrol has selected Becker Avionics' airborne digital multichannel audio control system for its new AS350 B3e. The aircraft, operated by the Utah Highway Patrol and Dept of Public Safety (DPS) Aero Bureau, is scheduled for delivery in May 2013 and will be completed by Hangar One Avionics in Carlsbad CA. The AS350 B3e is the first helicopter of its type to be used by a law enforcement agency in the US, joining 2 AS350 B2 AStars already in operation with Utah DPS.
Lifeflight Eagle has signed an agreement with Bell for 2 407GX medical mission aircraft. The company currently operates a fleet of Bell 407s for emergency air transport and patient care in and around Kansas City MO. Both ships will be equipped with the Garmin G1000H integrated glass flightdeck, which includes HTAWS, TIS, moving map display and Garmin's helicopter synthetic vision technology.
William Hunt has been named CEO of AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corp, a division of AgustaWestland. He was formerly the company's executive vp. In his new role, Hunt will oversee business operations from its headquarters at PNE (Northeast Philadelphia PA), where AW139 and AW119Kx helicopters are produced. Hunt joined AgustaWestland in 2006 from Boeing.
North Carolina-based US Helicopters has taken delivery of an American Eurocopter AS350 B2 as part of a fleet modernization program. The aircraft replaces an AS350 BA operated since 2001 in support of a Chicago area TV station. US Helicopters is a national operator of electronic news-gathering helicopters, half of which are AS350-series aircraft.
Finmeccanica Chairman & CEO Giuseppe Orsi resigned on Feb 15 following his arrest amid allegations of bribery and embezzlement. Orsi, who also stepped down from Finmeccanica's board, had been attempting to overhaul the company, which is approximately 30% government-owned, and return it to profitability. He denies any wrongdoing.
The company has promoted Alessandro Pansa to CEO in Orsi's place.
Prosecutors in Milan, Italy arrested Orsi on Feb 12 as part of an ongoing corruption investigation into a Feb 2010 deal for 12 AW101 helicopters signed between AgustaWestland and the Indian government. Investigations were launched in Feb 2012 following media reports of alleged unethical dealings and payment of bribes to middlemen involved in the deal.
Investigators also placed AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini under house arrest while they raided the company's offices in Milan.
On learning of the incident, Indian Minister of Defence AK Antony ordered the country's Central Bureau of Investigation to look into the matter.
The contract between AgustaWestland and India was valued at more than $700 million. Three AW101s had been delivered to the Indian Air Force's elite Communication Squadron by Dec 2012, although the Defence Ministry has put all remaining deliveries and any further payments on hold pending the outcome of the investigation.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti stated publicly, "There is a problem with the governance of Finmeccanica at the moment." He added, "We will face up to it."
Meanwhile, Silvio Berlusconi, the multimillionaire former prime minister and contender in Italy's upcoming general election, stepped into the fray by claiming that paying bribes is an essential part of doing international business and that official investigations into such activities constitute "a form of economic suicide."