Eurocopter Weighing Options, Including Diesel Power

 - February 23, 2009, 4:53 AM

Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling revealed this morning that the company is working on bringing diesel power to a light helicopter, most likely the EC 120. He said the helicopter would fly within 30 months. He added that ongoing projects at Eurocopter include upgrades for existing models and “preliminary design” of a new turbine-powered helicopter. Bertling also said development of the medium/heavy EC 175 is on track, with the new helicopter scheduled to make its first flight by the end of the year. Certification and initial customer deliveries of the EC 175 are still slated for 2012. Worldwide sales jumped from $5.46 billion to $5.85 billion and the number of units delivered grew from 488 to 588. Sales in the U.S. grew from $571 million to $750 million—a 31.3-percent increase—fueled largely by the U.S. Army’s UH-72A program. Bertling added that Eurocopter remains committed to aggressive research and development spending in spite of the current global economic crisis.