A large contract for helicopters for the Saudi Ministry of the Interior (MOI) announced at the show included nine Schweizer Model 434s for training. This new designation is used by an updated and improved derivative of the Model 333.

The new aircraft will be based on the existing Model 333 airframe, but will be powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft engine, which should be certificated in 2008. The 300shp RR300 was designed to power Robinson’s R66. Rolls Royce is reportedly discussing other applications of the new engine with Enstrom, MD Helicopters, and Schweizer.

The Model 434 will use the four-bladed rotor and dynamics developed for the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B FireScout unmanned aerial vehicle. The MQ-8B is a UAV derivative of the Schweizer 333, and was redesigned with a four-blade main rotor after the original Model 333 dynamics and three-blade rotor used on the original RQ-8A proved inadequate.

The 434 is designed to replace older generation Bell 206s, and will compete with the Eurocopter EC120 and Bell 206, and, to an extent with the new five-seat, turbine-powered R66. Before the Saudi order was announced, it was reported that Schweizer had “received a major order from a launch customer in the Middle East” and that the company has more orders in hand.

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Source: Flight Daily News