HELI-EXPO, LOUISVILLE, Ky., 3 March 2016. Finmeccanica Helicopter Division and Era Group Inc. officials signed a platform development memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly support AgustaWestland AW609 TiltRotor program development for the emergency medical service (EMS) market, including operations, regulations, maintenance, and configuration optimization concepts, as well as possible areas of enhancement or modifications.
The signing of the agreement sets another major milestone for the development of the first commercial tiltrotor towards FAA certification, officials say.
The partnership is intended to culminate in flying activities toward aircraft maturity and addressing commercial aspects for potential future AW609 acquisitions.
EMS operators will leverage the 275 knot maximum speed and 750 nm range of the AW609. With approximately twice the speed and twice the range of a helicopter combined with its all-weather capabilities, the AW609 can dramatically reduce the time it takes to support emergency tasks in demanding conditions.
The exclusive agreement strengthens the long established partnership between Finmeccanica Helicopter Division and Era, the largest global operator of AgustaWestland products, such as the AW119, AW109 Power, AW139, and AW189 covering offshore transport and rescue operational requirements, officials say.
By joining forces through their respective expertise and know-how, the partners are moving toward a marketing and operational preparation stage for its future EMS operations. The agreement to further develop the potential capabilities of the AW609 marks a significant step toward the production of an aircraft type that will provide a unique emergency medical service solution in the future, officials say.
The flight characteristics of the AW609 combine the benefits of a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft into one aircraft. Taking off and landing vertically, flying above adverse weather conditions with up to nine people in comfort or a combination of stretchers and medical attendants in a pressurized cabin with turboprop-like speed and performance, the AW609 represents the next generation of aircraft transport, according to company officials. Nearly 60 customers have already chosen the AW609 globally to perform several missions, such as patrol and search and rescue, offshore transport, executive/private transport, and homeland security roles.
Era Group Inc., a large helicopter operator and helicopter transport operator in the U.S., provides helicopters and related services to third-party helicopter operators and customers in other countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, India, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Era Group's helicopters are primarily used to transport personnel to, from and between offshore oil and gas production platforms, drilling rigs, and other installations.
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