Milestone Aviation Group has moved eight Leonardo AW139s. The aircraft were leased and delivered to Shanghai Kingwing Aviation Co. Ltd. to join an existing fleet of 32 helicopters.
With the Chinese customers, the AW139s are set to perform EMS missions, allowing the service to expand to 22 provinces. Established in 2006, Kingwing is the largest EMS operator in China, the lessor said. The company also provides aircraft hosting, consignment stock, crew training and helicopter maintenance services.
“We are delighted to partner with Kingwing on the largest helicopter lease placement ever in China,” said Milestone President and CEO Daniel Rosenthal. “We have long believed China was prime for growth in civil helicopters and look forward to supporting capable operators such as Kingwing as they provide critical life-saving helicopter services across China.”
Ireland-based Milestone said it leased its first helicopter to a Chinese customer in 2014, although parent company GE Capital Aviation Services has been active in China since 1988.
China is a growing market, with Russian Helicopters and Bell Helicopter among airframers making sales. Bell announced in December 2017 the 5,000th aircraft completed at its Mirabel, Canada, facility was headed to a Chinese customer. The Russian manufacturer announced shipment of two civil Ka-32A11BCs Jan. 5.
The country also has its own rotorcraft programs. In November 2017, the Aviation Industry Corp. of China said its AC312E civil helicopter had completed its first “plateau flight test” in the Yunnan province.