Airbus Helicopter Deliveries Dip 9.6% in 2020

 - January 26, 2021, 2:41 AM
France-based emergency medical service provider Mont Blanc was among Airbus Helicopters' customers who took delivery of new aircraft in 2020. (Photo: Airbus Helicopters)

Airbus Helicopters reported annual 2020 results this morning, including 289 gross orders (net: 268) and 300 deliveries that amount to a 48 percent share of the world civil and parapublic market. These numbers are down from 2019, when the company posted 369 orders and 332 deliveries to achieve a 54 percent market share.

The Europe-based company primarily lost market share to Russian Helicopters and Bell, while marginally gaining share from Leonardo. Acknowledging a difficult global market spawned by the pandemic, CEO Bruno Even said, “I am proud of our teams all over the world who adapted their ways of working to be there for our customers when they needed us the most, striving to help them to maintain their essential missions across the globe by delivering helicopters and the associated support and services they required.”

Even noted key accomplishments on the year, including the certification of the five-blade H145 medium twin and the H160 intermediate twin, as well as the continued development of the zero-emissions CityAirbus eVTOL demonstrator. Highlights in 2020 included the delivery of the first five-blade H145 to launch customer Norsk Luftambulanse and, later in the year, to DRF Luftrettung; the handover of the 463rd UH-72A from the Airbus factory in Columbus, Mississippi; and the first H225M and NH90 deliveries to the Kuwait Air Force and the Spanish Air Force, respectively. 

The significantly recorded orders count included 84 H145s, including 17 UH-72Bs for the US Army; 33 H135 light twins and EASA certification of improvements for that aircraft, including alternate gross weight and a new single-pilot IFR cockpit layout; and orders for the new H160 from leasing company Milestone Aviation and Heli-Union. The German Bundeswehr ordered 31 NH90s to replace its aging Sea Lynx fleet. 

Despite the economic contraction spawned by Covid-19, Even said Airbus continued to invest in new technology rotorcraft, citing 2020 milestones such as the first fully automatic flight of a CityAirbus and successful free flight autonomous deck landing trials of the VSR700 naval rotorcraft drone. Airbus also expanded its customer base for its HCare support programs, landing major contracts with air ambulance provider Air Methods and with NASA for its fleet of H135s.