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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Eurocopter Eyes 700 Orders This Year, Gets Jump at Le Bourget

PARIS AIR SHOW

Eurocopter expects to log about 700 helicopter orders this year, according to President and CEO Lutz Bertling. The French-German consortium got a boost toward that goal at the Paris Air Show, booking 114 orders there.

The orders, valued at more than €1.2 billion ($1.65 billion) ranged from single and fleet orders from civil operators to big orders for the NH90 military transport Eurocopter builds with AgustaWestland and Fokker Stork Aerospace. They included firm contracts for 94 aircraft and memos of understanding for another 20, which Eurocopter said were to be confirmed shortly after the show.

The delay-plagued NH90, Europe’s largest military helicopter program, garnered headlines after Germany signed a contract for 42 more of the Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) variant. It already had ordered 80. On top of that, Belgium became the 14th NH90 customer nation, ordering four NH90 TTHs and four of the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) variants. Belgium took options for two additional aircraft. At Le Bourget, Eurocopter delivered Sweden’s first high-cabin TTH aircraft.

In addition to the new orders, Eurocopter locked down a contract for the assessment phase of the U.K. Defence Ministry’s service life extension program for up to 35 of Royal Air Force Puma Mk.1s. The program, which would upgrade the Pumas to the HC Mk.2 configuration with Turbomeca Makila engines, glass cockpits, and new communications, navigation and defensive systems, is intended to extend their service life to 2022.

Also, its Eurocopter Vostok subsidiary signed an agreement with Sky Service of Almaty to establish a maintenance center in Kazakhstan for Eurocopter helicopters in the region. Eurocopter claims a 70-percent share in the market of Western-built helicopters in Kazakhstan, and says the fleet there is growing rapidly in the corporate, oil and gas, and para-public segments.

In other Eurocopter news at Le Bourget:

  • Helitrans, the operator from Andorra, ordered five EC130B4s and 5 AS350B3s, to be delivered over five years.

  • The U.S. emergency medical services operator Air Methods ordered 10 more AS350B2s. The company, which operates 140 Eurocopter aircraft, now has 109 on order, a mix of B2s, B3s, EC135s, and EC145s.

  • Eurocopter displayed the latest iteration of the AStar family, the AS355NP, before its deliver to the variant’s launch customer, Scandinavian Helicopter Group. The AS355NP features twin Turbomeca Arrius 1A1 engines and a new gearbox.

  • The company’s Helibras subsidiary in Brazil and the South African company Advanced Technology and Engineering signed a technical cooperation agreement on military helicopter modernization and acquisition programs in Brazil.

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