Same class, different market
Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling made it clear at a press conference here in Paris that there will be no synergy between the Korean Helicopter Program (KHP) and the EC 175. Although these two programs share the same class–seven metric tons (5,400 pounds)–and the same timing–first flight in mid 2009–they are completely different, he asserted.
“They might have some parts in common but the EC 175 is purely civil while the KHP is purely military,” Bertling stated. An export version of the KHP is planned but it will remain out of the EC 175’s scope, he insisted. Eurocopter is jointly developing EC 175 (Z15, under its Chinese designation) with AVIC II, under a 50/50 venture.
The European manufacturer has a 25-percent stake in the Korean development program, which is led by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI). The stake will rise to 30 percent for the production phase. Eurocopter will start releasing specifications and taking orders for the EC 175 in February at the Heli-Expo show in Houston, Texas.
The company has chalked up 464 orders since the beginning of this year. Here at the show, 50 NH90s have been ordered–42 by Germany and eight by Belgium. Bertling expects to receive more than 700 orders in total in 2007.
Eurocopter Forms Safety Directorate
Eurocopter has created a safety directorate, headed by executive director of customer support Jean-Pierre Dedieu. It will endeavor to reduce time between accident analysis and fleet-wide implementation of technical changes. In addition, it will offer special training to pilots. It will also be in charge of providing operators with equipment such as flight recorders and obstacle-avoidance systems. Moreover, among other responsibilities, it will better structure crisis management.