Marignane, France-based Eurocopter (Booth No. 1917) turned its annual Heli-Expo press conference on Sunday into a 20th anniversary celebration.
“We would like to speak to what we have achieved in the last year,” said Eurocopter President and CEO Dr. Lutz Bertling, “but also put the results in perspective with 20 years ago,” when the company was formed through a merger with the helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale and Daimler-Benz Aerospace MG.
Among the metrics of growth since 1992:
- Revenues have grown from $2.3 billion to $7.5 billion;
- the company’s share of the civil helicopter market has grown from 27.7 percent to 43 percent and military market share from 8.8 percent to 21.5 percent;
- the workforce has gone from 12,000 to 20,000, and aircraft deliveries have grown from 214 to 503 in 2011.
Bertling noted the 2011 figures all reflected “the impact of lower bookings at the end of 2008 into 2009. From now on, we see a significant ramp up” in orders, production and revenues.
Marc Paganini, president and CEO of subsidiary American Eurocopter, based in Grand Prairie, Texas, reported the results for the U.S., noting that, “The U.S. market remains the world’s largest.” 2011 revenues of $939 million represent more than a fivefold increase over 1992’s $142 million, as were last year’s deliveries (154 vs. 34). Meanwhile, civil market share grew to 46 percent from 36 percent and military to 13 percent from zero.
In 2011 Eurocopter booked orders for 457 aircraft. American Eurocopter accounted for 162 aircraft, or 35 percent of the orders:
- 13 EC120s;
- 238 for the EC130 family;
- 42 for the EC135; 104 for the EC145;
- 21 for the Dauphin/Panther/EC155 family;
- four for the EC175;
- and 35 in the Super Puma/Cougar/EC725 family.
Turning to last year’s highlights, Bertling said, “We believe in innovation, turning technology into customer value, no gimmicks.” Highlights included the launch of the X4 program, unveiling the EC145 T2, the first public appearance of the hybrid compound X3 helicopter and milestone deliveries of the 100thEC225, the 1,000th Dauphin and 1,000thEC135.
Later the same day, the company unveiled its newest model, the EC130 T2, which launched with orders for 105 aircraft from seven operators.
Bertling also termed last year’s acquisition of aftermarket services provider Vector Aerospace “a major milestone,” signaling Eurocopter’s entry into an arena of growing interest to OEMs as aircraft sales have declined and third-party suppliers have challenged manufacturers for maintenance and service contracts. Vector will continue operating under its own name and provide service to operators of numerous manufacturers’ helicopters.
American Eurocopter marked its 3,000th helicopter delivery in 2011, and Paganini highlighted accomplishments in the military market: the delivery of 52 UH-72 Lakota helicopters and completion of the work preparing the AAS-72X (Armed Aerial Scout) for RFI (Request for Information) and flight demonstration.
Going forward, American Eurocopter aims to “take advantage of a market which is slightly recovering,” Paganini said, with a projected delivery pace of 150 to 200 annually through 2014.
Looking at where future growth will come for Eurocopter in the civil market, Bertling said “Clearly, Europe is the problem child,” but cited the rebounding market in North American, the Middle East and Africa as encouraging, while calling Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America “big, strong growth markets,” adding, “Yes, installed fleets are small, but growth rates are impressive.”
Looking at military markets, Bertling said that as a “European supplier,” Eurocopter’s growth in that arena is constrained because China and other markets are closed, and Russia and the U.S. are “almost closed.”
Regarding future developments, the company will work to ensure a smooth entry into service of the EC175 and EC145 T2, work toward optimizing efforts in continued value creation for customers and provide vertical lift solutions for new missions such as servicing wind farms and other renewable energy operations, natural resources extraction, and perhaps most intriguingly, develop vertical lift for commuter solutions.
Bertling noted that any runway not on the drawing boards today for a major airport outside of China cannot be built before 2030, and given projected increases in air traffic, vertical-lift commuter operations are a legitimate option. He hinted Eurocopter has already been in discussions with government officials and other authorities in Europe regarding such operations.