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.
Airbus Helicopters and Esterline CMC (Booth No. 1414) have spent more than a decade collaborating on helicopter avionics, culminating in new certifications of avionics and airframes announced at Heli-Expo 2014. On display for the announcement were examples of Esterline’s CMA-9000 flight management system and CMA-5024 GPS landing system sensor in the Airbus EC175.
“Well over 1,000 CMC flight management systems are in service on Airbus helicopters,” said Greg Yeldon, president of Esterline CMC. “The navigation system on the EC175 is the latest example of this collaboration.”
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.
Eurocopter has received two more firm orders for VIP versions of the EC175 medium twin helicopter, bringing the total backlog to 48. Deliveries to both unidentified customers are scheduled for 2016. The interior design, which accommodates six to eight passengers, was done by Peder Eidsgaard of Pegasus Design. Cabin completion will be performed at Eurocopter’s factory in Marignane, France. Once planned for 2011, certification of the EC175 is now expected early next year.
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 is unveiling today at EBACE two new versions of the EC175 medium-twin helicopter, a VIP and executive variant. Designed by Peder Eidsgaard of Pegasus Design, a designer of business jet and super yacht interiors, the cabins will combine “flowing lines, symmetry and harmony in materials and colors,” according to Eurocopter.
The number of Eurocopters based in China for both civil and parapublic operators has now reached the 100-aircraft mark. According to Eurocopter, the milestone helicopter–an EC120 light single–was recently delivered to an investor group that will provide “tailored solutions to support the development of helicopter flying clubs.” The company sold 16 turbine helicopters to Chinese commercial and parapublic operators last year, a 54-percent year-over-year increase. It claims a 40-percent share of the market for helicopters in China.
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.
Pratt & Whitney Canada has a number of engines in development for the medium-twin helicopter category. The latest version of the PT6C family, the PT6C-67E, powers the Eurocopter EC175. Meanwhile, the PW210S is about to enter into service on the now-certified Sikorsky S-76D. Two more PW210 variants will power the AgustaWestland AW169 and the Eurocopter X4. Last year, the Longueuil, Quebec-based engine manufacturer (Booth No. N3718) produced more than 850 turboshaft engines.
Bristow Helicopters, the largest global helicopter provider, is set to become the U.S. launch customer for the not-yet-certified Eurocopter EC175. Representatives of the operator and manufacturer are expected to sign the purchase agreement at Eurocopter’s Heli-Expo booth (No. C2922) at 3 p.m. this afternoon, here in Las Vegas.
- Page 1