MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton said that the company’s new, clean-sheet MD6XX will fly in late 2017. Photo: Mariano Rosales
MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton said that the company’s new, clean-sheet MD6XX will fly in late 2017. Photo: Mariano Rosales

MD Helicopters Touts Rotorcraft Developments

MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton described the company’s situation as a “good news, bad news story."

MD Helicopters' Lynn Tilton

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MD Helicopters' Lynn Tilton

“The good news is we are oh so busy, the bad news is we are oh so busy,” she told the crowd gathered at annual Heli-Expo helicopter show in Dallas in March. She noted that of the more than 50 helicopters the company will build this year, all will have block changes, such as glass cockpits. “We may have been a bit late to the game but we have finally taken every aircraft over into glass and digital, and I think we’ve done it with some gusto,” she said.

Tilton credited the company’s military contracts for the transition. The company was able to embrace new technology research and development that comes with certifying military aircraft and reinvest into new programs. That enabled it to develop programs such as the 6XX single-engine helicopter. While Tilton admitted that testing for the upgraded Rolls-Royce C47 E3 is taking longer than expected, she said the 5,500-pound, clean-sheet design is expected to fly by the end of the year, and the company could achieve certification by the end of 2018.

In what is described as a cost-cutting measure, MD Helicopters has taken strides to bring more production in-house, including the single-engine fuselages, construction of which was formerly split between Monterey, Mexico, and Mesa, Arizona. All fuselage production has now been returned to Mesa. Tilton claimed that each part manufactured in-house results in savings of 35 percent, which could be reflected in the helicopters' bottom lines.

The company will also soon be bringing training in house, offering specialized programs for police, rescue, military tactical, weapons, night vision goggles, and specialized mechanic training both on premises in Arizona and deliverable on-site.

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