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.”
Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with Brazilian aircraft company Embraer to establish a joint venture to manufacture AgustaWestland helicopters in Brazil for both the domestic and regional military and civilian markets.
Eurocopter continues to search for the root cause of the main gearbox failure that resulted in forced but controlled ditchings by two EC225s last year. Early last month, the manufacturer was still hoping it would be able to recommend a return to flight in February. In a written statement sent to AIN late last week, however, it refers only to an “update on the situation” at the end of February.
Air Methods, the nation’s largest air ambulance provider, ended last year by placing orders for 42 new helicopters, including 20 Bell 407GX singles and 22 Eurocopters (10 EC130T2 and six AS350B3e light singles, and six EC135P2e light twins). All of the helicopters ordered are recently upgraded and improved editions of legacy models and feature new avionics and/or enhanced performance. The Eurocopter order is valued at more than $80 million. Deliveries are scheduled for 2014 and 2015.
Kitchener Aero Avionics has developed and obtained STC approval for a glass cockpit for the Eurocopter EC120 helicopter. 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 EC 120 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.