Airbus Helicopters and Avicopter, partners on the EC175/AC352 medium-twin helicopter program, signed a joint production agreement yesterday for 1,000 rotorcraft. The signing took place at the Elysée Palace in Paris, witnessed by Chinese president Xi Jinping and French president François Hollande.
Asked about the significance of the announcement, as the actual output will depend on sales, an Airbus spokesman told AIN that it should be seen as a “historic ambition” that strengthens the program. “The Chinese see this as a way to meet their huge need for helicopters,” he added. The agreement is valued at $21 billion over 20 years, with each airframer expecting to assemble approximately 500 helicopters.
Broadly speaking, Avicopter is in charge of structures, while Airbus manufactures systems and dynamic parts. As previously agreed, Avicopter will sell the AC352 in China. Airbus will sell the EC175 in the rest of the world. The EC175 is certified and deliveries will begin this year, but the AC352 has yet to fly and is expected to earn certification by China’s civil aviation authority in 2017.