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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heli-Expo Show Day: Schweizer Taking 434 Orders

R&W Show Day Staff

SCHWEIZER AIRCRAFT IS OFFERING delivery positions for its newest helicopter model, the 434, and briefing Heli-Expo attendees on its plans for certification of the four-bladed, turbine-powered aircraft.

In addition, the Sikorsky Aircraft (Booth 2040) subsidiary will update attendees on its X2 technology demonstrator work and other aircraft programs at its annual Heli-Expo press conference this afternoon. Schweizer and Sikorsky are pushing efforts toward the maiden flight of the X2, which is targeted for the first quarter of this year.

"This is a very exciting time for Schweizer Aircraft," said Paul Schweizer, president of the Horseheads, N.Y.-based manufacturer. "With the announcements of two new development programs at Schweizer, combined with orders for existing models well into 2009, we just couldn’t be busier."

Schweizer launched the 434 program late last year after finalizing a long-pending order for the aircraft from Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry. Under a program to build its capability to respond to emergencies in the Middle East kingdom, the ministry ordered nine 434s, 16 Sikorsky S-92s and 15 S-76s. The Saudis plan to use the 434s as trainers. Deliveries were to start as soon as next month.

Based on Schweizer’s turbine Model 333, the 434 will draw on the four-bladed rotor and dynamics developed for the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle being built for the U.S. Navy and Army. It also is based on the 333.

The 434 is intended to compete with the Eurocopter EC120, Bell Helicopter 206, and, by extension, Robinson Helicopter’s first turbine-powered aircraft, the R66. Like the R66, it will be powered by the 300-shp-class Rolls-Royce RR300.

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