In presenting its annual results yesterday, European aerospace consortium EADS shed more light on Eurocopter’s performance last year. As of December 31, the French helicopter manufacturer’s backlog included 1,070 aircraft worth $16.9 billion. While this is steady in units, it reflects a 7-percent decrease in value.
The EASA has approved Eurocopter’s fix for the tail-rotor problems that have affected the AS350B3e AStar/Ecureuil light single helicopter. Operators will have to perform the modification–essentially removing an additional chin weight and installing a load compensator–within five months, per a recently issued AD. It will “restore the tail rotor dynamic load level,” down to the level found on previous models, such as the B3.
India’s Ghodawat Industries placed an order for a Eurocopter EC135 helicopter at the Aero India show in Bangalore this week. The aircraft will be configured for four passengers and is due for delivery in May, when it will replace the customer’s existing EC120 model.
Kitchener Aero Avionics obtained STC approval for a glass cockpit for the Eurocopter EC120. It includes the Garmin G500H flight display system with helicopter synthetic vision, an attitude heading reference system and air data computer.
Also STC’d in the EC120 are the Garmin GDL69/69A XM weather datalink, an Avidyne TAS-605 traffic awareness system and a Honeywell KRA-405B radar altimeter. All of these additional systems are controlled by and displayed on the G500H. Images from an external video camera or Flir system can also be displayed on the G500H MFD.
Eurocopter has taken over the aerospace activities of Heuliez, one of its suppliers, based in Cerizay, Western France. The 49 jobs will be regrouped in a newly created subsidiary, Hélicoptère Aérostructure Services. Since 2008 Heuliez has provided Eurocopter with “concepts derived from the automotive industry” for EC120, EC130 and EC175 doors, as well as the AS350 Ecureuil’s canopy.
The vital North Sea fleet of EC225 helicopters is expected to remain grounded until April, according to Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling. The aircraft have not flown since October, when gearbox failures on two different machines caused Norwegian and UK officials to prohibit over-water flights until a fix is identified.
AgustaWestland is making a new push into South America. The Italian helicopter maker, part of the defense and industrial conglomerate Finmeccanica, signed a memorandum of understanding on January 21 to establish a joint venture with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to build AgustaWestland helicopters in Brazil for both the domestic and regional military and civilian markets.
The delivery schedule for the Eurocopter EC175 medium twin has moved further to the right. The unidentified first customer is now expected to receive the first example in the fourth quarter, instead of September, according to a recent update from Eurocopter. In addition to the delay in avionics development, CEO Lutz Bertling cited the better-than-projected performance, which involves reopening certain certification files.
Eurocopter is now anticipating that a solution to the main gearbox problem that has grounded the North Sea fleet of EC225s will be available in April. According to Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling, the solution will at least be a “safety barrier.”
Last year proved another year of growth for Eurocopter, despite continued erosion of deliveries. Revenues were up by 15 percent, at €6.3 billion ($8.4 billion), but deliveries dropped to 475 aircraft, the lowest number since 2005 and short of the predicted “500 plus.”