Eurocopter Ramps Up Production

 - March 2, 2013, 1:10 AM

Eurocopter managed to boost revenue last year despite sagging deliveries, in part on the strength of its service activities. The Marignane, France-based manufacturer plans to ramp up production this year, with the aim of delivering 15 percent more aircraft than it handed over last year.

In 2012, revenue amounted to €6.3 billion ($8.4 billion), a 15-percent increase over the previous year. “This was the second year in a row with double-digit growth,” said CEO Lutz Bertling at the company’s annual press conference in Paris in late January.

Meanwhile, deliveries have been on the decline since 2008. Last year, Eurocopter delivered 475 helicopters and–based on these deliveries–claims a market share of 44 percent of civil and parapublic helicopters with an mtow of more than 2,200 pounds.

Bertling attributes the rise in revenue from fewer deliveries to the bigger size, and therefore higher price, of the helicopters handed over. He also noted that customer support and services, such as maintenance and training, “are downturn-resilient.”

In fact, the service business grew to 42 percent of total revenue last year, up from 38 percent in 2011, with the value of service activity surpassing production. The growth in service business is due largely to the acquisition of helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul specialist Vector Aerospace in 2011. Last year marked the first full year of consolidation of Vector’s results into Eurocopter’s.

Helicopter sales logged last year provide another reason for Bertling to be bullish about the future. Eurocopter received net orders for 469 civil and military aircraft, worth $7 billion, a stronger increase in value than in units. These sales break down to nine EC120s, 249 Ecureuil/AStars, 63 EC135s, 81 EC145s, 11 Dauphins, 19 EC175s and 37 Super Pumas.

In addition, Bertling sees the future introduction of the company’s new models as further cause for optimism. “In the medium to heavy segment, we are not the market leader, but the EC175 and the X4 [a Dauphin replacement program] will change that,” Bertling pledged. Among current-production models, the success of the EC130T2, he said, is “far beyond expectations.” Eurocopter says it has received orders for more than 70 EC145T2s.

A priority this year is to “master the current ramp-up.” The company is endeavoring to support its suppliers’ efforts to achieve on-time delivery objectives, which will enable Eurocopter to increase its production by 15 percent. “It would be great if the order intake could grow by a double-digit percentage as well,” Bertling added. This would bring both deliveries and orders to more than 500 helicopters.