Defense business accounts for nearly half the turnover of Eurocopter, and recent export orders should help the EADS subsidiary overcome a downturn in commercial orders. Over the past two months, a major deal to supply 50 EC 725 Cougars to Brazil has been announced, followed by 15 more to Greece for SAR duties.
Lider Aviação, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is investing $7 million in a new hangar at the Jacarepaguá Airport in Rio de Janeiro. The 45,000-square-foot facility is slated to be completed later this year and will house a factory-approved Bell and Helibrás/Eurocopter service center.
With the arrival of its new CEO, American Eurocopter also revealed that it is expanding its “footprint” in the U.S. with the investment of $11.9 million in a new facility to be built at Golden Triangle Regional Airport near Columbus, Miss.
The Brazilian city of São Paulo lies south of the equator, straddling the Tropic of Capricorn, and is about as far east as the southern tip of Greenland. It is the homely sister to its more famous neighbor, Rio de Janeiro, which lies about 330 nm to the east and is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world. According to a popular Brazilian saying, Rio is for leisure while São Paulo is for work.
Eurocopter last year secured orders for 401 new civil/parapublic and military helicopters, up from 322 in 2004. Valued at E3.52 billion ($4.22 billion), the orders represent a year-on-year hike of 10 percent. Civil and parapublic helicopters accounted for 46 percent of the value.
Eurocopter (Stand C220) expects the long-anticipated growth in demand for civil helicopters in the Middle East to materialize now and it believes the market’s emergence will have been worth the wait. According to regional marketing manager Xavier Hay, the helomaker expects to sell at least 20 civil rotorcraft per year in this part of the world.
The latest market projection for the civil helicopter market: red-hot. For the OEMs, it means big delivery backlogs, which translates to waiting times of up to four or five years for customers. While the demand for medevac and offshore support rotorcraft is accelerating, the popularity of executive helicopters is also on the rise as urban surface traffic grows ever worse.
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.
Late in January in Paris, Eurocopter disclosed that it took orders last year for a record 615 helicopters worth €4.9 billion ($6.4 billion). Of those sales, 47 percent are for civil aircraft. The European manufacturer’s backlog now stands at €11 billion ($14 billion). Eurocopter last year delivered 381 rotorcraft and saw revenue increase by 18 percent, to €3.8 billion ($4.9 billion).
During a Sunday morning press conference here at Heli-Expo, Eurocopter president Fabrice Bregier quietly announced a pending agreement with China to codevelop a new helicopter. Called the EC 175, the new 22,000-pound-gross-weight helicopter will be positioned between the EC 155 and the Super Puma to compete in the heavy-lift market.