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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: Eurocopter Reports 111 Orders for New EC175

PRODUCTS | AIRFRAMES

To kick off Heli-Expo in Houston, Eurocopter unveiled the latest addition to its family: the EC175.

The new, 7-9-ton helicopter garnered not only the attention of attendees, but 13 signatures in its order book totaling 111 orders in the three days of the show. U.S.-based Bristow Group and Canada-based VIH Aviation Group were the launch customers for the aircraft, and were part of the unveiling ceremony Feb. 24.

Targeted to compete with AgustaWestland’s AW139 for offshore-support and executive transport customers, the EC175 would be bigger than the AW139 — at least based on the mockup shown in Houston. Its cabin was configured for 16 passengers, compared to the 139’s 12-15 in the offshore setup.

Eurocopter is developing the EC175 on a 50-50 based with Aviation Industries of China 2’s Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. It will feature a five-bladed Spheriflex main rotor and three-bladed tail rotor, a four-axis, duplex autopilot and five flat-panel displays in the cockpit. Its first flight is set for next year, and European Aviation Safety Agency certification is targeted for 2011.

In addition to its launch customers, Eurocopter reported booking orders for the EC175 from Bond Helicopters in the United Kingdom, Dancopter of Denmark, Era Helicopters and Halvorson Group in the United States, Global Vectra of India, Heli-Union in France, HNZ in New-Zealand, NHV of Belgium, Pegaso of Mexico, and UTair in Russia.

The manufacturer also reported receipt of the FAA type certificate for its EC225 and delivered the first to a U.S. customer, Era Helicopters. Eurocopter reported 120 orders for its other aircraft. "The results we have achieved at Heli-Expo prove the market should remain strong in 2008 and that we are well placed to significantly benefit from it," said Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling. — Evan Sweetman

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