Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Quest Helicopters plans to sell the first helicopters manufactured in the United Arab Emirates in about three years, and aims to sign up customers at the Dubai Airs show, an executive said.
The company presented the four-seat prototype of its Quest AVQ Series of helicopters today on the first day of the show. The first chopper will go into production in the latter part of next year, Mike Creed, director of commercial and strategic planning at Quest Helicopters, said in an interview.
“This will be the first privately funded civil helicopter to be built in the Middle East,” Creed said. By 2014, the first year of production, Quest aims to manufacture 20 rotorcraft, and its facility will be capable of producing 50 aircraft annually by fourth or fifth year, Creed said.
With almost 7 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, the U.A.E. is trying to diversify away from hydrocarbons with investments in industrial projects. The Gulf Arab state is home to Emirates, the world’s largest airline by passenger traffic, and Mubadala Aerospace, which manufactures composite aircraft parts for Airbus SAS.
With a $50 million investment over the next five years, Quest is producing its prototypes in Kharkov, Ukraine, and is showcasing a “technology test bed” for the final product to be built in the assembly and production plant in Umm Al Quwain, one of the U.A.E.’s northern emirates, Creed said.
The aircraft will cost $2.95 million at list prices and will hold that price for a limited number of airframes. Quest expects to ask any new customers for deposits of up to $250,000 per unit and will market the multi-mission aircraft worldwide.
The company is relying on a number of selling points to market the product, said Creed. The choppers will use fly by wire technology, which is new to helicopters and replaces manual flight controls in aircraft with an electronic system. Passengers will have ejectable capsule cabins, and the helicopter will have in line counter rotating dual rotor system, Creed said.
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