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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

MD to Expand in UAE, India and China with Quest

Douglas Nelms and Andrew Drwiega

MD Helicopters plans to increase marketing of its helicopter product line of light, multi-mission helicopters in the UAE, and has chosen Dubai-based Quest Aviation Solutions to be its exclusive sales distributor for the seven UAE emirates.


Qatar LifeFlight MD902 operated by
Gulf Helicopters.
Perry Orr, MD’s director for Middle East, Africa and India, said the company has not been pro-active in appointing a representative in the UAE for a few years because of a “targeted strategy in other global regions.” However, by linking up with Quest, “we are confident we now have the right partner to deliver sales success in the region.”


The region includes the UAE and other Middle Eastern markets, offering strong opportunities for light utility helicopters in police, medevac, offshore, corporate shuttle, VIP and special utility missions, he said.


Mike Creed, commercial and deputy project director for Quest, said that they will be heavily promoting both the low noise levels and the safety of the MD helicopters, particularly the technology of its three NOTAR models, the MD520N, MD600N and the MD902 Explorer. He also noted that traditionally operators in the UAE have gone for the medium to heavy helicopters that have a multi-mission capability—all in one airframe, but could not specialize in any one of the EMS or police missions in a dedicated manner.


MD’s family of light multi-missions helicopters “are great for desert operations,” particularly in regard to rotor induced brownouts. MD models such as the 530F, 540F and 902 twin-engine Explorer are also being promoted for their hot-and-high capabilities in a region where temperatures easily reach 122 degrees F (50 degrees C).
Two MD902 Explorers have already been flying for the past five years with Hamad Hospital “LifeFlight” EMS operations in Qatar, operated in collaboration between Qatar’s National Health Authority and Doha-based Gulf Helicopters.


In-house engineers will provide future maintenance for the MD helicopter product range used by police and EMS operators, with initial training provided under contract arranged by Quest. Pilot training will also be handled by Quest and supported by MD, with both maintenance and pilot trainers coming into the operator’s facilities for the first six months, Creed said.


He added that MD is investing a considerable sum of money to ensure its product support and spare parts availability is second to none: “A goal that has been challenging.”
Since MD was taken over in 2005 by Lynn Tilton and Patriarch Partners, it has been working at salvaging the bad reputation for product support it had been saddled with by its previous owners … and reports from the industry indicate that in the years since the take-over, spares have begun flowing freely, with greatly improved product support.


Creed said that Quest and MD are now holding discussions toward development of an MD parts and maintenance “Center of Excellence” that will give confidence and total support “to purchasers of any of the MD helicopter products.”


Quest Aviation Services has also revealed plans to sell the OEM’s multi-mission range (500, 600 and 902 Explorer) into India and China. Quest’s commercial director Mike Creed predicted this at the Dubai Airshow in November, where he confirmed that Quest would represent MD as a sales agent in the UAE.


Creed said that both the Indian and Chinese markets have “vast potential,” particularly in sectors such as police and EMS. MD Helicopters will also open its own office in China during 2014.


“We are extremely satisfied with our new partner Quest Aviation Solutions and look forward to broadening our relationship with them beyond the UAE into India and China,” said Orr. Quest will support India and China from its sales offices in Bangalore and Beijing.

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