An Airbus ACH160 in a special “Lounge” package interior will make its European debut with Italian VIP charter operator Air Corporate soon after Airbus Helicopters delivers the machine early next year, representatives from the companies said this week at the European Rotors trade show in Cologne, Germany.
Air Corporate plans to base the helicopter at its headquarters in Milan. The operator also maintains 12 other bases in Italy and its fleet already includes a mix of Airbus, Leonardo, and Robinson rotorcraft, as well as a Pilatus PC-24 twinjet.
What Airbus calls “significant” changes to the aircraft’s interior can include laminate wooden floors rather than carpet in both the cabin and cockpit and light wood rather than carbon-fiber materials throughout the cabin. Engineers have introduced 68 new technologies in the helicopter, allowing it to better soundproof the entire interior and decrease the model’s weight. An Airbus spokesman said the Lounge package applies only to the ACH160 and is a variation of the standard VIP Line interior incorporating bench seating to provide a balance with performance requirements.
“I’m quite sure the layout of the helicopter, the comfort of the helicopter, and let me say the sound of the helicopter—not the noise—will change some part of the market in Italy and in Europe,” said Air Corporate CEO Roana Grandi at European Rotors. “And I am quite proud that this configuration has been developed in collaboration between Air Corporate and Airbus.”
Grandi added that he considers the ACH160 Air Corporate’s “flagship,” and that the company might replace some of the company’s older helicopters with more of the new model. Air Corporate expects the ACH160 to serve as something of a demonstrator for at least the first year of operation, offering customers the chance to experience the configuration first-hand.