One of the static park occupants likely to draw most attention is the Bell Boeing 609 tilt-rotor mock-up, making its first appearance here.

Company officials believe the Middle East will be one of the most important markets for the aircraft, partly because the relatively long distances between points will give it an advantage over slower helicopters while retaining their vertical take-off and landing capabilities.

That speed is a major factor behind the interest being shown in the 609 by offshore operators elsewhere in the world, says the company.

When it first touted the nine-passenger machine to operators supplying oil rigs in the North Sea, initial reaction was: 'It's too small'.

However, says Bell Boeing, they then took a closer look at the statistics. While a 609 will carry nine passengers at 270kt (500km/h), the Sikorsky S-61s and Eurocopter Super Pumas that still make up the bulk of the North Sea workforce typically have maximum cruise speeds of 130-150kt.

The combination of increasing automation on offshore installations, plus the increasingly great distances from shore at which they are located, will make a smaller, faster form of transport such as the 609 increasingly attractive, says the company.

The company currently has 41 orders for the aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News