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FAS strengthens helicopter fleet with S-76Ds and Bell 412EPs
Falcon Air Services (FAS) of Abu Dhabi is expanding its 26-strong helicopter and jet fleet with the addition of two S-76Ds and two Bell 412EPs.

Falcon Air Services (FAS) of Abu Dhabi is expanding its 26-strong helicopter and jet fleet with the addition of two S-76Ds and two Bell 412EPs. FAS, which has options to purchase two further S-76Ds, is the helicopter's worldwide launch customer.

The S-76Ds, scheduled for delivery starting in 2011, will be configured for vip corporate, helitaxi, and offshore oil and gas support missions.

FAS chairman HH Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, pictured left during a Dubai Air Show presentation with Bell's Danny Maldonado, says: "We are confident that this latest variant of the S76 helicopter family will deliver the performance, comfort and operating economics that will enable FAS to continue providing the highest level of aviation services that establish benchmark standards in terms of safety, quality and customer service."

He points out that S-76D's pluses include all-composite, flaw-tolerant main rotor blades; an advanced Thales avionics system and autopilot; dual speed rotor with active vibration control; a quiet mode for enhanced public acceptance; and an optional Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS) for all-weather capability.

The S-76D helicopter also will offer an increase in useful load and extended range performance versus the S-76C+TM and S-76C++TM aircraft currently fielded, he adds.

FAS, which has eight 412s delivered already this year, will expand the number of the aircraft it operates to ten. AJ Baker, FAS vp for business development, says: "We have been extremely pleased with the performance of the 412. It is a remarkably reliable helicopter, ideally suited to operations in the region and meshes perfectly with our business requirements."

FAS was launched in early 2006 and has built a fleet of 21 helicopters and five jets. It carries out activities in support of offshore oil and gas operations in Abu Dhabi. FAS also specialises in corporate and vip charter, aircraft management and specialist maintenance services. While its primary base is Bateen in Abu Dhabi it operates its specialist vip and tourism helicopter services from dedicated heliports at Dubai Festival City on Dubai Creek and Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi.

Bell's regional sales manager Dane Pranke says: "FAS needs a helicopter that can carry a sizeable load, is easily configurable and is exceptionally dependable."

The S-76D completed its first flight on 7 February 2009 and is scheduled to enter production in 2010. "The S-76D will excel in the Middle East environment," predicts Carey Bond, president of Sikorsky Global Helicopters. FAS also serves as a Sikorsky Service Centre.

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