The world recession affected the helicopter industry. However, Eurocopter’s strong product line, solid after-sales service and loyal customer base helped the company retain its position as a world-leading helicopter manufacturer.
Eurocopter reinforced its worldwide commitment to training by deploying simulators and training devices for the EC225, AS365 Dauphin, AS350 AStar, EC135/145 and the NH90 in several nations on a global scale. One of these simulators is located at American Eurocopter. It, and the company’s Training Center, recently received CFR Part 142 certification for its EC135 training program. The manufacturer also agreed to establish a joint flight training center with UTAir of Russia.
The military and parapublic markets remained active. The French Ministry of Defense ordered 22 NH90s and five EC725s. The latter will join the existing fleet of 14 EC725s already in service, several of them deployed in Afghanistan since 2006. In the U.S., American Eurocopter’s LUH program for the U.S. Army with EADS North America continues to deliver on time, and is scheduled to increase to full-rate production of 54 aircraft in 2010. To date, Eurocopter has delivered 92 aircraft, including three to the U.S. Navy. The deployed fleet of UH-72As has accumulated more than 21,000 flight hours with an overall operational readiness rate of 93 percent.
The Mexican Ministry of Defense placed an order for six EC725s, which will mainly be used for transport and civil security missions. Six more EC135s were purchased by the UK Home Office for use with six police departments in the country. To date, 27 UK police departments are using both the EC135 and the larger EC145 for a range of aerial missions. In addition, the West Midlands Police Air Support Unit has ordered a new EC135 to replace one destroyed by arson.
MRO became another strong foothold. In June, Eurocopter signed a contract with the Federal German Defense & Procurement Agency for the retrofit of 26 German Army CH53GS/GE helicopters for personnel recovery missions. In September, the British Ministry of Defense contracted Eurocopter for the life extension program of 28 Royal Air Force Pumas.
Expanding its service capability, Eurocopter opened a customer service center in Hong Kong to serve the Asia-Pacific region and American Eurocopter opened its customer service and fleet operations center to serve customers in North America. These two service centers cover key areas of Eurocopter’s customer base and follow its global service strategy focusing on proximity to its customers, innovative services and information management.
The past year showed progress for Eurocopter’s new programs. The Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH) had its roll-out at the Korean Aerospace Industries facility in mid-2009. The EC175, a joint program with China, was on track and preparing for its maiden flight by the end of the year. Eurocopter also delivered the first two EC135 “l’Hélicoptère par Hermès” aircraft to the UAE’s Falcon Air Services and Japan’s Mori Building Company, respectively. Hermès completely redesigned the cabin to maximize available space and comfort.
This progress continued in the Asian region as the Chinese Ministry of Transport signed for two EC225s for SAR missions, and in Vietnam, the Southern Service Flight Company took delivery of its first two EC225s to support the country’s oil and gas industry.
Also a year of milestones, 2009 saw the 100th EC155 B1 delivered to Dancopter of Denmark in June. This event marked the 900th delivery of a Dauphin family helicopter. Dancopter currently flies five EC155s and is one of the launch customers for the new EC175, with two on order.
Eurocopter Canada celebrated its 25th anniversary and American Eurocopter marked its 40th anniversary in 2009. The U.S. subsidiary continues its market share leadership in the U.S. rotorcraft industry, where it has led for the past nine years.
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