The first EC725 to be fully assembled in Brazil was handed over to the Brazilian navy on June 17, Airbus Helicopters said. The previous 11 EC725s received by the Brazilian armed forces were only partially assembled in Brazil, or supplied direct from Airbus Helicopters’ production line in France.
Although popular with police, EMS and offshore operators in Europe and Asia since its introduction in 1999, the Airbus Helicopters (née Eurocopter) EC155 has been slow to catch on in the U.S. market. Customers panned the initial model for its unreliability and inadequate engine power. Those issues were largely addressed with an improved variant, the EC155B1, which entered production in 2002 and introduced uprated engines.
Airbus Helicopters is making its public debut in China this week for the first time since the company formerly known as Eurocopter was renamed as part of a wider restructuring that has seen other parts of its EADS parent group channel the marketing power of the Airbus brand. Airbus airliners have sold well here in the People’s Republic, but then so have the “Eurocopter” rotorcraft, which still lay a strong claim to being the market leader in China.
Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) and China’s Avicopter, partners in thedevelopment of the EC175 and AC352 medium-twin helicopters, signed an agreement last month for the production of 1,000 of the two models. The agreement is valued at $21 billion over 20 years, with each airframer expecting to assemble approximately 500helicopters.
A preliminary NTSB accident report released last week provided details of the March 18 crash of a Eurocopter AS350 in Seattle. The pilot and the photographer aboard the helicopter were killed when it spun out of control shortly after lifting off from a TV station’s helipad near the downtown Space Needle tower. One person on the ground was seriously burned after the crash set his vehicle on fire near the crash site.
The NTSB has begun trying to learn what caused the pilot of a Eurocopter AS350B2 to lose control of the newsgathering rotorcraft moments after liftoff from a TV station helipad in downtown Seattle on March 18. The pilot and a TV station photographer were killed in the accident.
Busy times for helicopter manufacturers bringing new rotorcraft to market are keeping engine maker Pratt &Whitney Canada (P&WC) busy as well. Among the new turboshafts approaching certification is its PW210A engine for AgustaWestland’s new AW169 twin. At the same time, the PT6C-67E will soon be powering the service entry of the new Airbus Helicopters EC175.
PT Dirgantara Indonesia (Booth E35), also known as Indonesia Aerospace (IAe), delivered its first complete main fuselage assembly for the EC225/725 helicopter series to Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) last December. The company had previously supplied five upper fuselage sections, as well as 23 tail booms, in a $43 million long-term deal struck in 2008 that called for a total of 125 component sets. Now IAe has been entrusted to supply integrated fuselages. This year, it will supply one every 10 weeks, and one tail boom every three weeks.
With its new name in place, Airbus Helicopters (née Eurocopter) is embarking on a transformation, according to CEO Guillaume Faury. He wants production processes to improve, has reshuffled priorities in research and development (R&D) and envisions a new market for the company’s product line.
The Avicopter AC352 medium-twin helicopter (previously known as the Z15, the Chinese version of the jointly developed Eurocopter EC175) is now expected to make its maiden flight in the second half of this year in China, according to Europe- and Asia-based industry sources. Entry into service is then expected late next year or early 2016. Certification had previously been planned for this year.
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