Speaking at a press conference last night at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi stated: “We are working with Bell to optimize the BA-609 tiltrotor program; our goal is to certify the tiltrotor as soon as possible.” His comments came in the wake of previous intimations from Bell Helicopter executives, uttered in July at the Farnborough 2008 Air Show, that Bell wanted to transfer more work to partner AgustaWestland in the long-running BA-609 tiltrotor program.
Orsi also tried to accentuate the positive amid a gloomy economic context. “Someone recently said to me, ‘Don’t go to HAI, you’ll just get depressed,’ ” Orsi said, to laughter from the assembled reporters. “That’s when I decided to come. I want to suggest – and I know I can’t suggest anything to the press – that the industry is doing well. Our industry is not the banks. We don’t have any ‘bad’ technology. Everything we do is a stone for preparing for the future.”
Orsi emphasized the need for the industry to develop adequate infrastructure, to help rotorcraft realize its full potential. “What we want is a network of vertiports that will be linked,” he said. “We will make it a European issue and hopefully in America, something will happen. We must develop infrastructure.”
In response to a question about the CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter and its poor availability rating with the Canadian government, he said that AgustaWestland has implemented an operational availability improvement program that expedites spare parts provisioning and reduces the aircraft's chronic maintenance burden. “The Canadian government will tell you that the availability rate trend is improving,” Orsi said.