New VVIP chop­pers be­gin ar­riv­ing next month


The first of 12 Agus­taWest­land AW101 he­li­copters for VVIP trans­port will arrive in In­dia next month to be­gin du­ties with the Air HQ Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Squadron based at Palam Air Force Sta­tion in Delhi. The new he­li­copters will re­place the old Mi-8/17 copters cur­rently used for ex­ec­u­tive trans­port of the Pres­i­dent, Prime Min­is­ter, se­nior gov­ern­ment lead­ers and vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries. The €560-mil­lion deal signed in Fe­bru­ary 2010 in­cludes five years of ex­ten­sive lo­gis­tics sup­port ser­vice and train­ing of pi­lots, which be­gan ear­lier this year.

The AW101 is said to be the largest he­li­copter in its class, sport­ing a cabin for 30 pas­sen­gers plus a rear bag­gage bay. A 1.83-me­tre-high cabin pro­vides stand-up head room and low lev­els of vi­bra­tions, due to an ac­tive vi­bra­tion re­duc­tion sys­tem— one of the fea­tures that made it a cho­sen plat­form for In­dian VVIP trans­port. The VVIP chop­per deal is Agus­taWest­land’s first mil­i­tary sale in In­dia. The com­pany is cur­rently await­ing the re­sults of the Navy’s multi-role he­li­copter (MRH) pro­gramme, where it is look­ing to sup­ply (as part of its joint ven­ture with Fokker Euro­copter and Fokker), the NH90.

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