The Paris Air Show attracts not just buyers and sellers of aircraft and related equipment, but also the buyers and sellers of the companies that make them. The aerospace and defense sectors have been hotbeds of merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in recent years, and the bankers who guide and cajole these deals have once again flocked to Le Bourget.
“It’s clear for us that this is the year of the A400M. The aircraft is ready, and it will be the reference for the next 30 years.” These were the words of Airbus Military’s Domingo Ureña-Raso, speaking just prior to the Paris Air Show.
The aerospace industries in Morocco and Tunisia still tend to be viewed as embryonic by some Westerners, but the North African countries are starting to capitalize on the desire by European companies to move production offshore and take advantage of the close proximity to these low-cost economies. Both countries have made a commitment to develop an investment framework promoting local jobs, and opportunities for international companies, and this is paying dividends with the constant creation of new aerospace concerns.
While the A400M and tankers grab the limelight, it is Airbus Military’s light and medium (L&M) transports that have been filling the order books, and the company has two new offerings that it hopes will maintain its ascendancy in the sector. The C295W is an upgraded version of the popular medium transport, while the original CASA 212 light transport is to get a makeover as the NC212i.
New details on the still-to-be-certified Eurocopter EC175 medium-twin helicopter program have emerged, including unexpected Chinese influence. Although the EC175/AC352 is a 50-50 joint program with China’s Avicopter, the Marignane, France-based manufacturer had long made it clear the two certification processes were distinct.
Eurocopter has inaugurated its Systemhaus, a €100 million ($130 million) helicopter development center built at its existing site in Donauwörth, Germany. With a total floor area of 300,000 sq ft, it is the new workplace for about 900 employees previously located in Ottobrunn. The facility features research and test facilities that will be used notably for the still-under-wraps X9 program.
At an unmanned vehicles forum in Bonn this week, EADS Cassidian was again promoting what it now calls a Future European Male (Female) system. But the prospects of a pan-European program to match or improve on Male (medium-altitude long-endurance) UAV offerings from Israel, the U.S. and elsewhere have receded. France has decided to buy two GA-ASI Reaper systems, and there are indications that the UK will retain its Reapers beyond 2015, rather than retire them upon leaving Afghanistan.
The German Ministry of Defence abruptly canceled plans to introduce a fleet of five Northrop Grumman RQ-4E Euro Hawk UAVs for high-altitude Sigint collection. The first aircraft, delivered in July 2011, was already flying on development tasks from Manching airbase near Munich. According to German media reports, the country has already spent €508 million of the planned €1.2 billion (in 2012 prices) to acquire the fleet, which was intended to replace aging Atlantic manned twin turboprops.
Eurocopter (Booth 7050) has received orders from China’s State Grid General Aviation Co. (SGGAC) for two AS350 B3e AStars and one EC225 . They will be used not only to support the country’s electric grid development but also for other airlift missions. “The SGGAC is growing its helicopter fleet and capabilities,” said general manager Zou Ben Guo.
Airbus (Booth 7040) announced here at EBACE 2013 that it has created a concierge support team for its ACJ customers worldwide, called C4you.
The C4you corporate jet customer care team is located at the Airbus Technical AOG center in Toulouse, France, and is comprised of experienced Airbus professionals ready to accommodate the company’s more than 500 corporate jet owners needing assistance with a maintenance or service item.