At the Monaco Yacht Show in September, Eurocopter exhibited a “collectable art” EC135 helicopter with a distinctive zig-zag, blue-on-white livery aboard the 282-foot super-yacht Quattronelle.
Oxford-based A2B Heli Maintenance is expanding the portfolio of helicopter types it works on. It plans to add Bell and AgustaWestland types to the current Sikorsky S-76 and Eurocopter EC120, AS350/355, EC135, AS365, EC155 and BO105. A2B, which holds EASA Part 145 approval, offers a range of services, from line maintenance to pre-buy survey and training.
Director Andy Bloxham expects to service 10 to 15 aircraft per yearas the three-year-old company becomes established. Under its airworthiness management activity, it already oversees 21 helicopters. A2B has seven employees.
Eurocopter has received orders from China’s State Grid General Aviation Company for two AS350B3e AStar/Ecureuils and one EC225. They will be used to support the country’s electric grid development and for other airlift missions. The B3e light singles will be delivered late this year. Handover of the EC225 is scheduled for 2015. Eurocopter has also signed contracts with Japan’s National Police Agency for one EC155B1, one AS365N3+ and two EC135P2es to replace aging aircraft. Deliveries are scheduled over the 2014-2015 period.
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.
Eurocopter’s presence in China goes back more than 40 years to the first sale of an Alouette III helicopter in the country in 1967. But since then, the European manufacturer has set down much deeper roots in China and the new twin-engine EC175 (or Z15, as the Chinese version is known) represents the latest stage in a wide-ranging cooperation with China’s Avicopter (see box) through the Shanghai-based joint venture Eurocopter China.
Metro Aviation (Booth No. C3511), further advancing its single-pilot IFR STC approval for the Eurocopter EC135 series, has added to it a helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (H-Taws). The company will also add Garmin’s GTN series navcom/GPS to both the EC135 and EC145 single-pilot IFR STCs later this year. The new GTNs offer touchscreen controls and seamless cockpit integration, as well as multifunction display capabilities that include ADS-B traffic and weather.
Air Medical Group Holdings placed an order for 30 Bell 206L4 and 407GX singles yesterday here at Heli-Expo. The company is the parent of helicopter EMS providers Air Evac Lifeteam, Med-Trans and EagleMed. No breakdown of the precise number of each type or the value of the order was provided by Air Medical Group. The three companies operate a fleet of Bell 206 LongRangers (Air Evac Lifeteam), Bell 407s and Eurocopter EC135s (Med-Trans) and Eurocopters and Beechcraft airplanes (EagleMed).
I strap into the Eurocopter EC135 light twin and head for California’s Cajon Pass. Cajon can deal helicopter pilots some of the worst conditions imaginable. The pass was created by the San Andreas fault and separates the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, not far from the HITOP VFR intersection and the San Bernardino and Rialto airports. The stretch of Interstate 15 and state road 138 that run through the pass are frequent scenes of automotive carnage.
Eurocopter released financial results for 2012 last month, logging another year of growth despite continuously eroding deliveries. Services, such as maintenance and training, are set to become Eurocopter’s number-one revenue producing activity, surpassing helicopter production. And during the next five years, the European manufacturer is betting on growth in emerging countries.
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.
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