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Eurocopter Projects Weaker Civil Sales; Robust Military Orders

By Staff Writer | February 23, 2009

At its press breakfast today at Heli-Expo in Anaheim, Eurocopter announced that the grim global economic climate probably would push down sales by more than 30 percent in 2009. The good news, company executives said, is that the expected downturn in civil sales will be mitigated by the company’s robust military and governmental backlog.

Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling insisted that the Franco-German rotorcraft manufacturer was sticking to its goal of doubling revenue by 2020, citing the fact that the company scored its second best year ever in 2008. However, despite the company’s relatively strong position in the global helicopter market, he emphasized that no company is immune from an economic picture that he termed as “uncertain” and “unpredictable”.

After 715 net helicopter orders in 2008, this year is projected to end with only 450 sales. He acknowledged that the economic crisis has curtailed the lifestyles of wealthy customers, possibly resulting in fewer orders for VIP/corporate aircraft. “It’s true, the sector that is getting hurt the most is tourism and corporate sales, but in this environment it’s very hard to make predictions,” he said.

Emphasizing bright spots, he noted that the EC 175 program remains on schedule, with first flight planned for mid-December and first deliveries slated for 2012. He also said that the company’s backlog wouldn’t be significantly affected by the civil downturn because of continuing strong demand for military and government aircraft, which account for 71 percent of the company’s $19 billion backlog.

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