Eurocopter and the house of Hermès revealed their “l’Hélicoptere par Hermès,” an EC 135 with a decidedly up-market interior, today at the NBAA Convention. The new helicopter came about after officials from both companies met at EBACE in Geneva in May last year, held discussions for six months and decided to cooperate on a joint project that culminated in the special edition of the EC 135 on display at the NBAA show this week.
Eurocopter EC 135
American Eurocopter has received an FAA aircraft production certificate to manufacture its U.S. Army UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter and EC 145 commercial variant at the company’s plant in Columbus, Miss. The first helicopter produced under the certificate was delivered to the Army on August 27.
At last month’s Paris Air Show Eurocopter delivered the first upgraded Ecureuil/TwinStar, the AS 355NP, its current light twin offering. According to the Marignane, France-based manufacturer, the helicopter offers better performance, an enhanced cockpit and improved cabin interior. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the aircraft on February 15. Transport Canada and Russian certifications are expected later this year.
Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) continues to consider a possible new turboprop design that could provide a sufficient advance on the PT6, which through its myriad variants offers 700 to 2,000 shp. However, for the moment at least, the manufacturer sees no immediate prospect of moving on from the ubiquitous powerplant to a new-generation engine in the same power range.
The new Eurocopter AS 355 NP Ecureuil on display here at Le Bourget will shortly be delivered to the first customer, Scandinavian Helicopter Group. The Swedish operator uses its fleet of rotorcraft mainly for passenger transport and aerial work.
The twin-engine Eurocopter EC 135 helicopter, well established in the emergency medical services and law enforcement sectors, is gaining greater acceptance as an executive aircraft, with about 100 delivered to this market, according to the manufacturer. Here at EBACE, Eurocopter (Booth No. 7513) is showing one of these aircraft, OE-XFB–owned by The Flying Bulls of Austria.
A deluge of orders for new helicopters during HAI’s Heli-Expo, held in Las Vegas last month, surprised even seasoned industry watchers on the floor. By the end of the show’s second day, an estimated 110 airframes, conservatively worth $600 million, had been spoken for by domestic and international customers.
Eurocopter’s new boss believes that last year’s good sales figures should not hide
the need for some changes in the company culture. Speaking to the press in Paris
on January 21, president and CEO Fabrice Brégier, 42, said the helicopter manufacturer’s customer service still needs improvement. However, “Eurocopter is now in working order, according to the new frame I have defined,” he stated.
The FAA’s plans to update certification rules to reflect the improved capabilities and performance of modern helicopters appears to be moving ahead with few hurdles, according to officials with knowledge of the changes proposed last August.
Goodrich Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., announced yesterday that it has developed DC starter-generator brushes to extend the time between overhaul required on a helicopter’s starter or generator.