Eurocopter Hopes To Launch X4 Medium Twin Helo Soon
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling is hoping the Dauphin replacement program, codenamed X4, will be given the go-ahead within the next few months. A medium twin in the 9,000- to 11,000-pound category (the same as the AS365/EC155), the X4 is still in the feasibility study stage. “We are still waiting for the French government to confirm we will benefit from a major bond it is planning to issue; this announcement should come by year-end,” Bertling said last week. Apparently, the bureaucratic process for the bond is taking longer than anticipated. In February, Bertling expected to launch the program by June. The French state’s contribution could cover up to 20 or 30 percent of program costs, Bertling hinted. However, he said, it will be fully compliant with launch aid international rules. Depending on the amount allotted, Eurocopter will consider making the X4 less or more innovative. Meanwhile, 2010 is “still a tough year” in terms of helicopter sales, according to Eurocopter. The company had sold a net 200 aircraft as of August 31. While that seems substantial, the book-to-build ratio is still below 1:1.