Mixed fortunes #4: Rotorwings escape budget cuts
This year's theme for the Flight front cover competition is "The essence of this great industry". The essence this year is, I think, that fortunes are mixed, with growth in some areas and slowdown in others. I selected four images to reflect or symbolize developments in four areas: passenger airlines, business aviation, cargo carriers and the helicopter industry. As Flight reported recently, the helicopter industry was hit hard by the economic downturn, but is about to bounce back. Tthe offshore industry is booming and needs helicopters badly. And the military helicopter sector almost escapes budget cuts, because the versatile rotorwings are badly needed on battle fronts, during peacekeeping operations and for fire fighting duties. In the Netherlands budget plans called for scrapping 14 of the 17 Cougar helicopters in the air force's inventory. But second thoughts led to the decision to retain eight of the Cougars. All other types will remain in service at full strength, even the four remaining good old Alouettes in a VIP role. This fourth image in my "Mixed fortunes" series shows Eurocopter AS.532 Cougar U.Mk.2 c/n AS.532U2 with tailnumber S-440 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) 300 squadron hovering over De Kooy Naval Air Station in The Netherlands (EHKD) on 21 September 2011.
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