The first NH-90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) in final operational configuration was delivered to the French Army on January 30. “This is the culmination of the most important helicopter program ever launched in Europe,” said Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling. Earlier deliveries of the TTH version to Australia, Germany and Sweden attracted criticism in those countries for various deficiencies. But Eurocopter said that the final configuration includes field-tested avionics that enable the helicopter to carry out its missions night and day with no major restrictions. Eurocopter produces the NH-90 as part of the NH Industries joint venture. France has ordered 34 TTHs and taken options on 34 more.
Eurocopter said that revenue increased by 12 percent last year to a record high of €5.4 billion. The EADS subsidiary delivered 503 helicopters and took new orders for 457 machines worth €4.7 billion last year. However, only one-third of these were military sales. The defense newsletter published by French consultant ADIT noted recently that Eurocopter has not sold a single NH-90 or Tiger in the past two years.
Eurocopter described the acquisition of Canadian-based MRO company Vector Aerospace as the most significant in its 20-year history. The deal helped Eurocopter increase its support and services business to 38 percent of revenue. Another highlight was the creation of the joint venture with Korea Aerospace Industries to market the Korean Utility Helicopter, or Surion. The company noted that the EC725 assembly line in Brazil will be inaugurated this year. Bertling suggested recently that the Helibras subsidiary there can expand to “become the national helicopter maker of Brazil.”