Against a backdrop of global macroeconomic uncertainty, the North American market is a bedrock of optimism for Airbus Helicopters. Along with Europe, it is the only market to have returned to pre-Covid levels over the past 12 months, company CEO Bruno Even said during a Tuesday morning press conference at the Heli-Expo show in Atlanta.
In 2022, North American operators achieved a 10 percent increase in flying hours, much of it driven by higher levels of emergency medical service (EMS) activity, according to Romain Trapp, who is CEO of the Europe-based manufacturer’s U.S. subsidiary (Booth C2803). Last year Airbus took orders for 87 aircraft in the continent from 56 different customers and bookings amounted to an almost even 50:50 split between single-and twin-engine models, reflecting increased demand for larger models such as the H145.
Texas-based Airbus Helicopters made 74 North American deliveries in 2022, representing a 20 percent increase over 2021, and Trapp said he expects the uptick to continue this year at around the same rate. The company now claims a 61 percent market share in that part of the world, as EMS, airborne law enforcement, private and business aviation, and offshore support all saw improvements. Around one-third of the 87 new orders last year came from customers who are either new Airbus operators defecting from rival airframers or those purchasing their first-ever rotorcraft.
Strong market conditions have motivated Airbus to make further investments in its North American footprint, as staffing levels for its customer support team grew by 34 percent. It has also expanded its blade repair shop, added a new multipurpose test bench, and added a new full-flight simulator for the H145 aircraft in partnership with Thales. It now has the capacity to train more than 1,600 pilots each year and plans to add an H160 simulator in 2024.
On Monday, Airbus Corporate Helicopters received an order for a pair of H160 twins, fitted in the ACH160 Exclusive cabin configuration. The undisclosed customer is an existing operator based in India.