AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter fleet operated by Weststar Aviation Services of Malaysia has achieved the milestone of 20,000 flying hours, just 18 months after their first AW139 entered service in April 2011. Weststar is the largest civil operator of AW139 helicopters in Asia and has ordered 16 AW139s with 12 aircraft already in service.
The company started operations with the AW139 on April 1st 2011 in support of Petronas and other oil companies offshore operations in Peninsular Malaysia from their bases in Kerteh, Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu serving a number of prominent companies including Petronas Carigali, ExxonMobil, Talisman, Newfield, Petrofac, and TOTAL.
Vincenzo Alaimo, Head of Region and Managing Director, AgustaWestland Malaysia Sdn Bhd said “We congratulate Weststar Aviation Services on achieving the milestone of 20,000 hours in such a short time, accomplishing its missions in demanding environmental and operational conditions.” He added “We now look forward to celebrating future milestones with Weststar Aviation Services who’s set to be one of the first operators to introduce into service the complete AgustaWestland Family of new generation helicopters having ordered AW189s and AW169s to complement their AW139 fleet.” Weststar will be the first operator worldwide to benefit from the commonality in design across the AW139, AW169 and AW189 family of new generations helicopters.
As well as possessing the same high performance flight characteristics and safety features the helicopters share a common cockpit layout, design philosophy and maintenance concepts that will allow more effective operations for customers operating helicopter fleets from 4 to 8.5 tonnes. Achieving the 20,000 flying hour milestone for the Weststar Aviation Services’ fleet of AW139s marks another major milestone for this helicopter programme. The AW139 has become the best selling helicopter in its class for an impressive variety of commercial and government roles meeting the most demanding requirements across the globe.
Since its certification in 2003, the AW139 has been constantly enhanced to achieve ever increasing levels of performance, safety, mission effectiveness and capability to meet the very latest challenging requirements of present and future customers. Over 500 aircraft are now in service performing many roles including offshore transport, EMS/SAR, VIP/corporate transport, law enforcement and military transport. Almost 180 customers from more than 50 countries have ordered nearly 650 AW139 helicopters so far.
AgustaWestland Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of AgustaWestland, continues to play a major role in the Malaysian helicopter market expanding its presence and increasing its capabilities through a continued programme of investment. Located at Kuala Lumpur's Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, AgustaWestland Malaysia’s regional maintenance and support centre is a Malaysian DCA approved maintenance and repair organization. AgustaWestland Malaysia Sdn Bhd provides local support and training for the growing fleet of AgustaWestland customers in the region.
Formed in April 2003, Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Weststar Group, provides general aviation charter services, personal transport, aerial work services and offshore transport. In the general aviation sector the company operates seven Eurocopter helicopters and one AW139 VIP helicopter as well as Gulfstream, Boeing 737 and Boeing 727 business jets from its base at Subang. Weststar Aviation Services ventured into offshore operations when it won a five year contract from Carigali Hess to transport personnel using two Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopters based in Kota Bharu.
The offshore division of Weststar Aviation Services now has a total of 22 helicopters in service and on order – 16 AW139s, 2 AW169s, 2 AW189s and two Sikorsky S76C++ helicopters – servicing various offshore aviation operations around the country, making it the largest provider of offshore aviation services in South East Asia.
AgustaWestland is pleased to announce that it has been selected to go forward to the contracting phase for their bid of up to £46 million from Round 3 of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The combined RGF and AgustaWestland investment of more than £100 million will create a brand new industry sector in the UK with the establishment of a Civil Helicopter Hub. The projects will create and safeguard over 3000 jobs across the UK and create hundreds of new opportunities for the UK supply chain. The funding will also support the design and development in the UK of advanced technologies in the field of tiltrotor systems integration and for increasing the performance of tiltrotors, which combine the benefits of a helicopter and an aeroplane in one aircraft.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said “Advanced manufacturing is important to the future of our economy and the Government is determined to get behind it through our industrial strategy. Our work with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership has identified boosting exports and growing high value jobs as priorities – that is exactly what AgustaWestland’s exciting projects can deliver. “Targeted support through the Regional Growth Fund can really help world leading companies like AgustaWestland to continue to compete with the very best.”
Ray Edwards, Managing Director, AgustaWestland said “Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era for Britain’s rotorcraft industry. This funding and the investment being made by AgustaWestland will enable the UK to become a key player in the growing commercial rotorcraft sector.” He added “We welcome the support of the RGF and Government as we are committed to helping develop further the UK Civil Aerospace industry through the work undertaken by the Aerospace Growth Partnership. It is this type of positive collaboration of industry and the Government that will help create a long term strategy and a shared vision for UK aerospace.”
The Civil Helicopter Facility will include a commercial helicopter final assembly line, helicopter maintenance facility, helicopter training academy in conjunction with the Aerohub at Newquay Cornwall Airport, and a helicopter Research and Development (R&D) Centre in conjunction with industry and academia. RGF funding will support design and development work for the AW609 TiltRotor and future tiltrotor designs. AgustaWestland will work with the National Composites Centre, University of Liverpool and a number of key UK suppliers on this programme. This project will allow UK industry and academia to be involved in the most advanced and innovative aerospace programme of today.
The AW609 TiltRotor is set to revolutionise flying by combining the benefits of a helicopter and an aeroplane and it will be the world’s first high speed commercial rotorcraft to enter the market following certification in 2016. These projects will provide long term sustainability and growth of highly skilled engineering and manufacturing jobs across the UK and create hundreds of new opportunities for the UK supply chain. It will also support a wide range of research projects for future commercial rotorcraft programmes, keeping the UK at the very forefront of rotorcraft technology.