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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: The Military Workhorse is Alive and Kicking

MILITARY | HEAVY LIFT

When Rotor & Wing asked Mark Ballew, a senior manager from Boeing’s Tandem Rotor Aircraft division, "What’s the current situation at your company," he graciously took the time to answer.

R&W: How is business these days?

Ballew: The Chinook continues to serve as the workhorse of Army Aviation, and our newest program, the CH-47F, is progressing exceptionally well. We’ve delivered 58 of 452 aircraft to date, we’ve fielded and trained four units, we’ve deployed units into both Iraq and Afghanistan, and we just signed a five-year contract that provides total program savings in excess of $449 million while providing workforce stability for Boeing and our supplier teammates. The program is solid because the Chinook team is delivering on time and on cost, and the aircraft is exceeding all mission requirements while enhancing flight safety and situational awareness for the crews. Business is strong.

R&W: Where do you see the market going for the coming year?

Ballew: The market for the Chinook continues to grow. We are in the early years of a contract for deliveries to the U.S. Army, and we are in negotiations with a number of allied customers. The CH-47F continues to demonstrate exceptional performance with enhanced capabilities around the world. Additional countries are going to see the benefits to operating the Chinook.

R&W: What are your thoughts about the International Helicopter Safety Team and its efforts to reduce helicopter accident rates by 80 percent by 2016?

Ballew: There has been a lot of excellent work performed by the Joint Helicopter Safety Analysis Team (JHSAT) to study accident data, analyze causes, and initiate potential mitigation solutions. The results of the effort have been shared with the members of the International Helicopter Safety Team and with the implementing branch — the Joint Helicopter Safety Implementation Team (JHSIT). Many of these potential solutions offer technical promise in helping to achieve the reduction in helicopter accidents as targeted by the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST). We look forward to the autumn meeting in Montreal to hear the results of the JHSIT’s activities and recommendations.

R&W: How does your company participate?

Ballew: Boeing is always researching and considering improvements in helicopter safety and airworthiness. Although the IHST’s efforts have been primarily focused on civil helicopters, Boeing is a financial sponsor of the International Helicopter Safety Symposium, and has Product Integrity Safety employees as members of the IHST.

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