Launching the military version of its AB139 multi-role helicopter at Farnborough 2000, Bell/Agusta Aerospace (BAAC) set out its belief that civil and military helicopter markets are converging quickly and that the key to success lies in flexibility.

BAAC now has five firm orders for the civil AB139 and is expected to announce additional sales during the show. It will now look to capitalise on the military sector.

Officials say they have spoken with the Italian armed forces and overseas governments and they believe the aircraft can secure sales based on its ability to perform a wide variety of missions.

"We intend to push the helicopter for troop transport, fire support, med-evac, command and control and search and rescue missions among others," says Antonio Giovannini, executive marketing director. "The changing face of the military sector means that more and more customers want an aircraft that is light, agile and can be reconfigured quickly, while still being effective on the battlefield. We believe that is what we have with the AB139."Turning to the civil side, Giovannini says the AB139's cabin and storage space is one of the single biggest selling points - along with the price tag of just over $6 million per machine. The baggage compartment is 3.4m3 (120ft3) in size and is accessible from both inside and outside the passenger compartment.

Source: Flight Daily News