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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Gulf Helicopters AW189 Order Leads Strong Showing in Dubai

By Douglas Nelms

Gulf AW139 undergoing
maintenance.
AgustaWestland secured orders for a total of 23 AW169s and AW189s during the recent Dubai Air Show, including configurations for the offshore, law enforcement and VIP/corporate markets. The largest order involves 15 AW189s going to Gulf Helicopters for offshore operations, making it the first Middle East operator to fly the AW189.

The Qatar-based operator currently has a fleet of 15 AW139s, with three more on order.


Gulf Helicopters will receive its first two AW189s next year, with the total order to be in operation by 2017. Gulf Helicopters also serves as an authorized training center for AgustaWestland, operating an AW139 Level B full flight simulator.


Gulf Helicopters CEO Mohammed Al Mohannadi stated that the decision to order the AW189 came from over six years of experience in flying the AW139 in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Europe, accumulating more than 45,000 flight hours. “The AW189, which hails from the same family of new generation helicopters such as the AW139, can add an advantage to the company’s operations where longer range capabilities are required,” he noted.


The Dubai Air Wing, which serves the Royal Family, also ordered the AW189, but in the VIP configuration, making it the first VIP AW189 sold on the global market, according to Roberto Caprarella, communications manager for AgustaWestland.


AW139 simulator operated
by Gulf Helicopters.
Falcon Aviation Services, an Abu Dhabi-based rotary and fixed wing operator, purchased two AW169s in VIP configuration, while the Dubai Police ordered five AW169s. FAS already operates both the AgustaWestland 109 Grand and GrandNew helicopters, along with the Bell 412EP and Eurocopter EC130 B4 and EC135.


Caprarella noted that the Gulf Helicopters and FAS orders had already been announced under preliminary sales contracts, while the Dubai Air Wing and Dubai Police orders were first announced at the show.


Certification of the AW189 is “very near,” with the first aircraft to be delivered prior to the end of the year, he added. First delivery will be to Bristow Helicopters. AW169 is scheduled for certification in 2014.


AgustaWestland has already recorded more than 80 orders for the AW189 and more than 100 orders for the AW169 worldwide.


He noted that certification of the two helicopters will allow AgustaWestland to get into two market areas it has not
previously been in. The first of these is the light/intermediate segment of the market for the AW169, while the second is the longer range and higher capacity market for the AW189.


“We understand that the offshore market is getting farther and farther out, particularly in Asia. You have platforms that are getting very far from shore. So you really need larger capacity and longer-range capability. The AW189 is the right answer.”


With the AW139M version of the AW139 showing success in the military and paramilitary market, AgustaWestland is already considering a military variant of the AW169. Caprarella said that the company has already sold 15 AW139Ms to the Italian Air Force, 21 to the Qatar Armed Forces, 16 to Ireland and almost 20 in the UAE.


“These dramatically reduce costs in comparison to getting a true military specific helicopter, so introducing the 169 and 189 into that market could be a force multiplier. We have launched a specific variant (of the AW169) to meet the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout requirement, and there is a similar requirement in South Korea for which we are offering the 169.”

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