While Eurocopter remains the leader in unit sales of civil helicopters, its competitors are honing their products. The company’s management team is well aware of the pressure, as one official recently expressed concern about new competing products from Western manufacturers. He stated that they will soon be as capable as, and less expensive than, Eurocopter’s.
An air-medical AB139 that will be used by Italian operator Airgreen during next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Turin is on display here in Paris on the ramp beside the Bell/Agusta Aerospace chalet (A382). The twin-turbine helicopter’s unobstructed, 282-cu.-ft.
Paris-based Héli-Union, which operates a fleet of 35 mostly twin-engine helicopters mainly for oil majors, has signed a draft joint venture operating agreement with Kazakhstan’s leading oil group. As part of the collaborative accord with Euro-Asia Air, in June the company took delivery of Eurocopter’s 800th Dauphin, which began operations in Kazakhstan in August.
Norway’s Helikopter Service, now part of CHC Europe, a division of CHC Helicopter Corp. of Canada, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The company, founded in Oslo by Morten Hanke in 1956, was the first to begin civil helicopter operations in Norway, with a Bell 47.
If sales are the standard by which the success of an aviation trade show is measured, Heli-Expo 2006 will go down as an unqualified triumph, with announced helicopter sales contracts tallying more than $620 million among all the major manufacturers.
It will come as no surprise to industry watchers that Eurocopter had another good year last year. Its $4 billion order book was its best in the last five years. The total included $1.7 billion worth of new helicopters–equivalent to 401 airframes–and 70 percent of that sum was for export.
Max-Viz, the Portland, Ore. manufacturer of infrared enhanced vision systems (EVS), is at Heli-Expo 2006 with a recent order for its EVS-1000 system to equip the Canadian Helicopters fleet.
Mitsui Bussan Aerospace of Japan planned to announce this morning it has signed a contract valued at approximately $100 million for the purchase of 12 AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters. Deliveries are scheduled to begin next year.
Although one of the helicopters sharing the Eurocopter booth here in Dallas may look like a Russian attack aircraft, its true role is far less aggressive.
The Sikorsky S-92 and Agusta AB139 will be deployed on search-and-rescue (SAR) duties around the UK between next year and 2012. In a surprise announcement early last month, Britain’s Coast Guard revealed that challenger CHC Scotia beat incumbent Bristow Helicopters to the $86 million contract and will run SAR operations at four bases on the south coast of England and to the north of Scotland. Three AB139s will supplement four leased S-92s.