While Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) had to navigate the global pandemic in 2020, the company managed to “maintain a good level of bookings” by netting 62 orders for the year, which is down by about 10 percent from the previous two years, said Frederic Lemos, the head of ACH. Even with the softened demand, that means "we’ve been grabbing market share from the competition,” added Lemos, who reviewed the company’s business activities on the eve of EBACE Connect.
While the pandemic has prevented many face-to-face meetings with customers because of travel restrictions, the personal and business aviation sector “has demonstrated a great resilience.” With 28 Airbus Helicopters customer centers around the world, “we’ve been able to maintain a certain level of proximity with our customers and still continue to accompany those wanting to acquire a helicopter.”
Lemos noted that the company has developed a 70 percent share in the yachting market with its ACH135 and ACH145 models primarily satisfying that niche. Demand in that market should remain robust, he added, as 78 yacht projects with helidecks are in the pipeline. “Yachting as a whole has also been pretty much resilient," he added. "Customers [are] looking more and more to isolate on their yachts…and it’s probably what they will do next summer, trying to have more privacy and not mixing with large crowds.” ACH is considered “a trusted adviser” in the yachting market, a reputation developed through interactions in the early stage of yacht construction with designers, manufacturers, and customers, he said.
Lemos also briefly reviewed the ACH160 program. While the all-composite intermediate twin received EASA type certification in July, its FAA type certification has been hampered by Covid. “It’s been even more difficult because of these travel restrictions to be able to exchange and progress and make the necessary flight tests,” he said, “but we are in this mode of delivery progress and certification and will indeed this year deliver the aircraft.” He said the first copy of the ACH160 will be to a customer in New York.