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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MD Helicopters Aims 530G at International Militaries

—By Andrew Drwiega

MD530G at Heli-Expo 2014. Photo by Frank Lombardi
MD Helicopters owner Lynn Tilton believes, or rather “dreams,” of taking her once-ailing company forward to rapid manufacturing and production of existing and new helicopters.

A self-confessed “obsessive for technology and innovation,” Tilton believes that one of the ways to get her company back into the mainstream of helicopter production will be through the use of 3D printing. With many companies under her control, she has been particularly interested in the automotive sector and other specialist applications.

“If we can put out a new aircraft designed in the 3D space it will deliver us a quicker time to market,” she stated, reflecting on the problems the company continues to have in logistical fulfillment.

Her ideas for a hybrid helicopter would include the use of electric motors. “We may try to do a single-engine helicopter for propulsion and an electric motor for systems, but it is realistic enough to realize that such a concept is not just around the corner.” Whatever is the result of her research, she assures that it will be a brand new design.

MD is currently selling between 50-100 helicopters per year and Tilton has directed the company toward its own niche in supplying smaller military customers in the international market.

Down to earth and away from dreaming, the company showed its MD530G on the stand, which is an armed aerial scout helicopter precisely for that foreign market. Tilton acknowledges that it would not be considered by the U.S. Army (“I think I know them pretty well by now”), but that if the company can keep selling her “armed scout” family to foreign militaries in numbers of around 12-18 helicopters, that would not only please her but give the company much more financial flexibility to spend on R&D. Expectations were that the company would deliver 50 or more aircraft in 2014, depending on how successful the company is in getting the MD530G to market.

 

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