Heli-Expo Draws Crowds And Buyers To Dallas

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Heli-Expo, the annual event for vertical aviators, closed out on Tuesday with record attendance, reporting more than 19,000 visitors to the four-day show in Dallas. More than 650 exhibitors filled the show floor, and 60 helicopters were on display. Eurocopter announced sales of 191 aircraft at the show, valued at $1.44 billion. "For the whole of last year we sold 170 helicopters," Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling told Agence France Presse. "This year, we sold 191 in just three days." Of those sales, the newly upgraded EC130 T2, designed for tourism and transport, counted for 105. Russian Helicopters showed its new medium-lift aircraft, the Mi-171A2, a heavily upgraded version of the popular Soviet-era Mi-8. The new design features modern avionics, new engines, composite rotor blades, and seats for up to 26 passengers. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2014.

Over the weekend, the show opened with the introduction of a new "super-medium" design from Bell and an update from Robinson. Click here for video of the Bell 525 unveiling. The mood in the exhibit hall was "extremely upbeat" among both exhibitors and attendees, according to Helicopter Association International, which organizes the show. Manufacturers reported "very strong" sales, HAI said. "For four years in a row, now, Heli-Expo has grown in size and number of exhibitors," said HAI President Matt Zuccaro. "We're looking forward to next year's show in Las Vegas." Next year's show is set for March 4 to 7, 2013.