Qatar firm inks deal for 15 AgustaWestland helicopters

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Gulf Helicopters has ordered 15 AW189 helicopters with Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland, it was reported.

Under the contract, signed in Qatar on Tuesday, the first two aircraft are planned to be delivered in 2014 with all helicopters expected to be in operation in 2017.

Minister of Energy and Industry and chairman of Gulf Helicopters parent company Gulf International Services, Mohamed bin Saleh Al Sada Al Sada, said the contract was the latest phase in a partnership dating to 2007, Qatar’s The Peninsula newspaper reported.

“Gulf Helicopters has also been appointed by AgustaWestland as an Authorised Service Centre for maintaining the existing AW139 helicopters manufactured by the company, and it is also the first and only company in the world to be classified as a helicopter operator with an Authorised Training Centre in the Middle East for the AW139 in accordance with AgustaWestland standards,” he said.

Mohamed Al Mohannadi, CEO of Gulf Helicopters, said: “With 15 units in its fleet and over 47,000 of flying hours already recorded, Gulf Helicopters’ experience in operating, maintaining and managing the AW 139 in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Far East Asia and Europe over the past six years has helped in our decision to purchase the 8-tonne class twin engine helicopter, AW189.”

Al Mohannadi said the AW189, which hailed from the same family of new generation helicopters such as the AW139, had an added advantage of longer range capabilities.

Daniele Romiti, CEO of AgustaWestland, said: “We are delighted to see how increasingly strong is our partnership with Gulf Helicopters with the signing of a significant number of firm orders for the all new AW189 helicopter. Gulf Helicopters, already a prime operator of the AW139 in the region, will also become the first customer to introduce the family concept into operational service in the whole area. We are confident that they will perform a quantum leap forward in operational effectiveness, versatility and fleet management.”

Assembly and flight testing of the first batch of offshore-configured AW189 production aircraft is ongoing at AgustaWestland’s Vergiate plant in Italy, with the start of delivery planned by year end.

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