At the delivery of its first Eurocopter EC225s from an initial contract for four, Brazil’s Omni Helicopter International placed an order for six more. They will be operated in oil and gas missions. Deliveries will be spread until 2015.
The first NH-90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) in final operational configuration was delivered to the French Army on January 30. “This is the culmination of the most important helicopter program ever launched in Europe,” said Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling. Earlier deliveries of the TTH version to Australia, Germany and Sweden attracted criticism in those countries for various deficiencies. But Eurocopter said that the final configuration includes field-tested avionics that enable the helicopter to carry out its missions night and day with no major restrictions.
Malaysia’s requirement for a new multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) was a key feature of this week’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition. Although no formal request for proposals (RFP) has been issued, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen were all on flying or static display in pairs.
MBDA Deutschland conducted three firing trials of its PARS 3 LR fire-and-forget precision missile in late April as part of its campaign to sell the weapon to India. Performed at the Vidsel range in Sweden, the test firings were undertaken from a German Eurocopter Tiger UHT helicopter, for which PARS 3 LR has been selected by the German army.
Defense business accounts for nearly half the turnover of Eurocopter, and recent export orders should help the EADS subsidiary overcome a downturn in commercial orders. Over the past two months, a major deal to supply 50 EC 725 Cougars to Brazil has been announced, followed by 15 more to Greece for SAR duties.
Eurocopter has received orders for 10 EC 155 Dauphins and five AS 350B3 Ecureuils from two Chinese companies. Citic Offshore Helicopter will operate the EC 155s, the deliveries of which will start next year. Meanwhile, the AS 350B3s will be delivered over the next two years to Allyway and leased to various Chinese operators. This is the first order for the B3 variant in China.
Eurocopter’s “all-weather helicopter” (AWH) demonstrator has flown from the manufacturer’s headquarters in Marignane, France. The proof-of-concept aircraft is an EC 155B fitted with systems that are expected to manage 3-D flight plans, help avoid collisions with terrain or obstacles, de-ice the airframe and allow the helicopter to perform steep approaches in zero visibility.
India scrapped a $600 million deal with Eurocopter for 197 AS 550 Fennec light helicopters. Last February, the Indian Army chose the AS 550 to replace its large fleet of Cheetah and Cheetak light helicopters, in preference to the Bell 407. But the selection process was controversial, and Eurocopter was accused of illegal use of agents to influence the deal.
Small but noteworthy helicopter equipment manufacturers found a suitable showcase for their products at Helitech 2007 in Duxford, England, early last month. Big OEMs Agusta-Westland, Bell, Enstrom, Eurocopter, MD Helicopters, Robinson and Sikor- sky (along with accompanying subsidiary Schweizer) were either present or represented, and they had sales to announce.