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Defender 500

The Defender 500 foreign military sales helicopter is offered with either a four- or five-blade main rotor, depending on the model, with a weapons platform mounted on the lower rear body. This light utility commercial helicopter could seat five passengers in comfort, and is used mainly by the military, being very flexible and offering good all round capabilities. Other missions include: direct air support, antitank, reconnaissance, observation, and light utility. A single engine is mounted inside the body with air intakes on top of the cabin and a blackhole exhaust. The fuselage is teardrop-shaped a features a round, glassed-in cockpit and landing skids. External stores are mounted on weapons racks on each side of the fuselage. Each rack has one hardpoint. The tail fin is boomerang-shaped, swept-back, and tapered. The tail flats are back-tapered with small fins attached to the tips, with the flats high-mounted on the fin forming a T. The rotor is moutned on the lower left of the tail boom.

On 12 February 1998 the Boeing Company announced its intention to sell its commercial helicopter business. Boeing built commercial helicopters -- the MD 500 Series, MD 600, and MD Explorer -- in Mesa, Ariz., where it also produces the AH-64D Apache Longbow. As of early 1998 the facility employed 5,300, of which 350 were dedicated to the production of commercial helicopters. On 25 February 1998 Bell Helicopter Textron announced a plan to acquire the Boeing MD 500 and MD 600 series product lines, However, the transaction was dis-approved by competition authorities at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in June 1998.

Subsequently, on 19 January 1999 McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co., the indirect subsidiary of The Boeing Company, and MD Helicopters Holding, Inc., an indirect subsidiary of the Dutch company RDM Holding, Inc., signed an agreement on an asset purchase of Boeing's MD 500, MD 600N and MD Explorer series of light commercial helicopter product lines. Included in the product line are the MD 500E and MD 530F single-engine helicopters with conventional tail rotors, the MD 520N and MD 600N single-engine helicopters with Boeing's exclusive NOTAR no tail rotor system for anti-torque and directional control, and the MD Explorer series of twin-engine, eight-place helicopters. RDM is a European-based industrial group with aerospace activities. The company designs and builds diesel-electric submarines and builds and repairs ships, manufactures and overhauls military vehicles, and produces defense and aerospace products, including landing gear and transmissions for aircraft and helicopters. It is a subcontractor to Boeing for landing gear and fuselage assemblies for Apache helicopters.

Like the mythical phoenix rising from its own ashes, MD Helicopters is once again flying high and one woman is ultimately responsible for this rebirth: Lynn Tilton. Now back in the major leagues, this American manufacturer owes a lot to its Chairman and CEO. A very atypical personality in the helicopter industry, Lynn Tilton devised and implemented an economic strategy which is paying off. When she came across MD, the company was well on the road to ruin. Until that time, she had never had a company in such poor condition on her hands.

In 2005 MD Helicopters was purchased by Patriarch Partners LLC. Lynn Tilton is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Patriarch Partners LLC, a private equity investment firm with offices in New York, Charlotte, North Carolina and Dallas, Texas. Funds affiliated with Patriarch manage assets in excess of $6 billion and include majority and minority ownership positions in more than 67 companies. Founded by Tilton in 2000, the firm was created to develop innovative financial solutions and to manage and monetize the distressed portfolios of financial institutions. The Patriarch platform is a vertically integrated distressed private equity firm with robust in-house operational turnaround expertise. Patriarch Partners, LLC ("Patriarch"), founded in 2000, was built upon a proprietary patented financial model designed to manage and monetize the distressed portfolios of financial institutions. Patriarch has since evolved into a global investment firm that concentrates on direct investments in distressed businesses, managing funds with over $6 billion of equity and secured loan assets with equity investments in 65 companies, and controlling interests in approximately two-thirds of these. Patriarch focuses on the acquisition of undervalued companies where time, capital and sound strategy can rescue a business and restore value, often preserving U.S. jobs while simultaneously providing demonstrated returns to investors.

In less than one year, three CEO followed one another to head up the company. Faced with this game of musical chairs, Lynn Tilton decided to take control of MD Helicopters herself. During the same period, the manufacturer lost two large contracts, one after the other: one with the American army and another with the German police force. To start the machine again, she invested 5 Billion USD in June 2005.

Lynn Tilton revealed her character without hesitating: that of a businesswoman who likes challenges. A challenge which she seems to have met, and then some, with MD as, in little more than two years, this American has infused new life into the manufacturer. In 2007, MD arrived in second place in a customer satisfaction survey, behind Bell Helicopters but ahead of Sikorsky and Eurocopter. Eccentric and a little flashy in both her manner of dress and behavior, the young woman was quickly catalogued by the aeronautics industry. All the same, away from the limelight, the woman known as "the Matriarch" at MD Helicopters vigorously directs a small empire.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:29:26 ZULU