Highlights From Heli-Expo 2007

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This year's edition of the Helicopter Association International's annual convention, Heli-Expo 2007, concluded Saturday afternoon at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.. The showroom floor hosted more than 500 exhibitors and 35 helicopters on display. According to HAI, exhibitors reported high levels of activity at their booths, and vendors were able to interact with thousands of consumers on the floor during the three-day event. The association doled out several “Salute to Excellence” Awards at a dinner celebration over the weekend. Heli-Expo was also a platform for vendors and manufacturers to announce new products. Robinson Helicopter said it is developing the five-place R66 Turbine powered by the 300-shp Rolls-Royce 300, which itself was unveiled on Friday. Details are scant on the R66, but it is expected to enter service in the 2010 timeframe and compete with the Bell 206 JetRanger. Meanwhile, Bell Helicopter ditched the Model 417 announced at last year's show and added the Bell 429 GlobalRanger light-twin helicopter to its stable. Sikorsky took the wraps off of a search-and-rescue-configured S-92 and said its twin-rotor X2 technology demonstrator program will accelerate later this year. Manufacturers also announced sales of nearly $750 million at the show, some $120 million more than that recorded at Heli-Expo 2006. And Honeywell expects the good times to roll -- the company's turbine helicopter forecast projects deliveries of about 3,500 new civil-use helicopters between 2007 and 2011.