Eurocopter unveiled record revenues, with growing service activity offseting sagging helicopter deliveries. The Marignane, France-based company is once again claiming to be the number one in the civil and parapublic market, thanks to a calculated 43-percent market share. Several development programs are under way, notably in the medium-twin segment, including the X4 Dauphin replacement, the EC175 and a shorter version of the AS332 Super Puma, for which performance numbers have just been announced.
Eurocopter’s 2011 revenues reached a record €5.4 billion ($7 billion), a 12-percent increase over the previous year, while deliveries totaled 503 helicopters, down from 527 in 2010. Last year, the manufacturer received 457 net orders, representing €4.7 billion ($6.1 billion), compared to 346 net orders in 2010.
According to CEO Lutz Bertling, the civil helicopter market has recovered. He said Eurocopter had only 15 cancellations last year. In addition, the downturn primarily affected the light segment. The strongest growth was that of the Ecureuil/AStar/TwinStar/EC130/Fennec family, at 238 orders. Other orders include 13 EC120s, 42 EC135s, 104 EC145 light twins (including UH-72A Lakotas), 21 Dauphin/Panther medium twins and 35 in the heavier Super Puma/Cougar family. Finally, the first firm order for the EC175 (four examples) was included in Eurocopter’s books.
Civil orders accounted for 68 percent of the total (in units). For these order numbers, Bertling clarified that some buyers signed multi-year contracts for the EC175 and EC225. These will translate into firm orders, becoming annual orders as accompanying payments take place.
Eurocopter is continuing to increase the share of services in its annual sales results. Services accounted for 38 percent of revenues in 2011 but 43 percent of orders (in value). Bertling said that increasing this share improves resilience. One target is to increase marketshare in non-Eurocopter maintenance. He said Eurocopter wants to maintain its customers’ fleet of aircraft, not just Eurocopters.
In a five-year civil market forecast, Bertling estimated Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe will experience strong growth. North America, Africa and the Middle East are seen in the medium growth category. Western Europe is predicted to grow slowly, Bertling said.
In programs, the EC175 is on track for full certification this year. Eurocopter was previously planning a basic type certification late last year, followed by offshore mission equipment certification this year. “We have chosen to combine the certifications and full certification of the offshore oil-and-gas version will happen by year-end,” Joseph Saporito, Eurocopter’s executive v-p for the global supply chain, told AIN.
Meanwhile, the X4’s development is progressing. First flight is slated for 2015. An intermediate configuration is to be certified in 2016. A replacement for the AS365 N3e Dauphin and EC155, it will feature a new airframe, new engines and new main gearbox. In 2020, the final X4 configuration is to add a new man-machine interface, including advanced displays and fly-by-wire controls.
A new version of the AS332 Super Puma has appeared in Eurocopter’s civil range brochure. The AS332 C1e is a shorter variant of the AS332 L1e (or an improved version of the C1, which has not been offered for several years). It can seat 17 passengers instead of 19, due to its 28-inch shorter cabin. However, as it is powered by the same engines as the L1e–-two 1,877-shp Turbomeca Makila 1A1s–-the mtow is the same at 18,960 pounds with an internal load. Maximum cargo sling load, too, is unchanged, at 9,920 pounds. Range, at 346 nm, is below that of the L1e.
Eurocopter has fitted full glass cockpit avionics to the C1e, and the autopilot is that of the EC225. The company is pitching the new variant for heavy sling, logging and power line maintenance operations.