Eurocopter’s presence in China goes back more than 40 years to the first sale of an Alouette III helicopter in the country in 1967. But since then, the European manufacturer has set down much deeper roots in China and the new twin-engine EC175 (or Z15, as the Chinese version is known) represents the latest stage in a wide-ranging cooperation with China’s Avicopter (see box) through the Shanghai-based joint venture Eurocopter China.
This year’s Heli-Expo continued the show’s record run, exceeding the number of attendees at the Helicopter Association International’s annual convention for the sixth year in a row. The final numbers included 20,393 attendees, 60 helicopters and 736 exhibitors, according to HAI president Matt Zuccaro.
At Heli-Expo yesterday, Eurocopter introduced a new model intended to help maintain its market position, the EC135T3/P3, which is making its debut here. The company reported a 15-percent growth in revenues in 2012 despite a decrease in deliveries over 2011.
Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI, Booth No. N5704), provider of hourly cost maintenance programs for the business aviation industry, announced its new airframe programs for the Eurocopter EC135 and EC145 series at Heli-Expo ’13.
“We are excited about providing the option for additional airframe coverage this year, just two years after providing engine coverage for the Eurocopters,” said Walter Given, 16-year JSSI veteran and helicopter program manager for the company.
HEMS Academy, the simulator training arm of German air ambulance specialist ADAC, has announced that it will add a new Eurocopter EC145T2 full-flight simulator in 2015. This follows ADAC’s order last September for 14 new EC145T2 helicopters to replace its aging BK117 B2 fleet. The new helicopters will be equipped with the EuroAvionics EuroNav7 navigation system upgrades, which will also be included in the simulator. Meanwhile an EC145T2 systems training device will be brought online in mid-2014, allowing for web-based training on the type.
Turbomeca (Booth No. C3901) is ramping up production of its turboshaft engines this year. Simultaneously, the company’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activity is growing, too. In new developments, Turbomeca is busy with helicopter engine upgrades to the Arriel family and the new TM800 that will power the Eurocopter X4 medium twin.
Eurocopter managed to boost revenue last year despite sagging deliveries, in part on the strength of its service activities. The Marignane, France-based manufacturer plans to ramp up production this year, with the aim of delivering 15 percent more aircraft than it handed over last year.
In 2012, revenue amounted to €6.3 billion ($8.4 billion), a 15-percent increase over the previous year. “This was the second year in a row with double-digit growth,” said CEO Lutz Bertling at the company’s annual press conference in Paris in late January.
In just over a month, more than 20,000 rotorcraft enthusiasts will fill the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center for four days of networking, learning and, every business hopes, buying of services, parts, accessories and helicopters. While the exhibit halls open on a Tuesday this year (10:30 a.m. on March 5), early activities begin with professional education courses starting on February 28.
The EASA has certified the Turbomeca Arriel 2E turboshaft; it will power the Eurocopter EC145T2, currently still undergoing certification flight-testing. The 950-shp (takeoff power) engine is scheduled to enter service by year-end. The Arriel 2E, an upgrade of the Arriel 1E2, benefits from a new axial compressor and new blade material. Time between overhaul is also improved, at 4,000 hours initially and a target 6,000 hours “at maturity.”
Italian aircraft interior specialist Mecaer Aviation Group (Booth No. 4538) is displaying a full-scale mock-up of its new VIP interior for the AgustaWestland AW169 here. Mecaer was previously selected by Eurocopter as the VIP interior system supplier for its EC145.