Eurocopter (Booth 7050) unveiled a mockup of the executive version of its EC175 medium twin helicopter at EBACE and is also offering an even more luxurious VIP version.
Thanks to a healthy market for top-of-the-range business and private aircraft, the Marignane, France-based manufacturer expects that the EC175, in these versions, will be more successful than the EC135 Hermès and the EC145 Mercedes-Benz launched at previous EBACE shows. Prices for the new variants are around €17 million ($22 million) and vary with options. The VIP version is some €500,000 ($650,000) more expensive than the executive option.
Cabin interior designer Peter Eidsgaard of Pegasus Desig explained that he wanted to “remove the feeling of a helicopter” and wanted the cabin interior to look like a house, a jet or a yacht. He “simplified lines” in an attempt to make the background adaptable to the various versions. In addition to the executive version (nine to twelve passengers), three styles for the VIP variant (six to eight passengers) are available.
Frédéric Lemos, Eurocopter’s senior manager for business and private aviation, said executive/VIP sales are expected to reach a combined five examples per year. This would be much higher than for the two aforementioned programs as Eurocopter sold only a couple of EC135 Hermès and a handful of EC145 Mercedes-Benz.
He expressed hope that the MoU for the first VIP EC175 will be converted to a firm order at EBACE 2013. The first delivery is planned to take place late in 2015. Lemos clarified that the executive/VIP EC175 will not be sold in China, due to Eurocopter’s agreement with Avic on the joint EC175/AC352 program.
Completions will take place in Europe but Eurocopter still has to decide precisely where that will be. One option is “to do it in house,” Lemos explained, and an external supplier has been assessed, too. Auch, France-based JCB (Booth 2243), the company that manufactured the mockup’s interior and claims to be a fully skilled completion specialist, will not outfit production executive/VIP EC175s, Lemos said.