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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

MD Helicopters: What’s on the Menu?

Recent rumors that MD Helicopters was on the block, since denied by MD owner and Wall Street investor Lynn Tilton, raised a question. Tilton said Sikorsky Aircraft, AgustaWestland, and Eurocopter parent EADS all expressed interest in MD. What might they buy if Tilton were selling (which she insists she is not)? One of the more intriguing aspects of MD’s product line is the no-tail-rotor (Notar) technology used on some of its aircraft. But MD doesn’t own that technology; it licenses it from Boeing, which kept the patents when it sold the former Hughes light helicopter lines to MD. Another appeal is the MD500-related A/MH-6 Little Bird flown by U.S. special forces. But when Boeing was competing for the U.S. Army Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter contract a few years back, Boeing says, it bought back rights to future sales of the military MD 500 series, including the Little Bird. MD’s main assets seem to be its current commercial lines, their aftermarket, and the manufacturing plant in Mesa, Ariz.
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