The five-year, firm fixed-price contract to provide 150 armed MD 530 helicopters and required production support services to the U.S. Army and Partner Nation Army Aviation Forces, which MD Helicopters signed in September last year, made 2017 “our best year ever in booking and backlog,” said CEO Lynn Tilton Tuesday at a Heli-Expo 2018.
Deliveries of the first five of 30 of new MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters to the Afghan Air Force are slated to begin delivery in May, with the rest expected to be delivered by year end, she said. Subsequent deliveries will go to Kenya and Lebanon, and orders from additional countries are anticipated.
Separately, MD moved airframe production from Mexico to Mesa, Arizona. Forty-two aircraft are now on the production line, and Tilton said she expects six units to be added every 30 days. To support the production ramp-up, the company hired some 100 people this year; and the OEM is now employing more Americans now than when Patriarch Partners Investment Fund, of which Tilton was the sole principal, bought the company in 2005. Total employment is now about 500.
While Tilton called 2017 MD’s best year ever, she expects revenue to be 65 to 70 percent higher than last year.
At its Heli-Expo booth (5505), MD Helicopters is displaying an MD 530F for the Virginia Beach Police Department and an MD 530G attack helicopter, one of six ordered by the Malaysian Ministry of Defense. Both are equipped with glass cockpits that are expected to receive FAA certification soon and will be offered to all MD 530 operators.
The Virginia Beach Police Department’s MD 530F is scheduled for delivery in June of this year. Designed to have the pilot flying from the right seat (MD 500s are typically flown from the left seat, which is different from most other helicopters), the helicopter’s glass cockpit includes Howell Instruments engine instrument displays, Garmin's G500H TXi MFD/PFD and GTN650 GPS navigator, and L-3 ESI-500 electronic standby indicator. The ship also has extended landing gear, a Fargo 21-gallon auxilary fuel tank, wire-strike protection, high-contrast main rotor blades, Flir Star Safire 380HDc EO/IR system, TrakkaBeam A800 searchlight and NVIS-compatible-interior to provide enhanced visibility for officers on low-light missions.
Before opening the press conference to questions, Tilton quashed an issue that had marred the MD Heli-Expo press conference last year, saying, “I won the SEC case. I fought the government in its own private court and I won.”