Eurocopter has obtained an order from Russian operator UTair. The agreement, finalized in early March at Heli-Expo in Orlando, follows a letter of intent that was signed in early 2008. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2013.
UTair Chairman and CEO Andrey Martirosov told Rotor & Wing immediately following the signing ceremony that the EC175 “will be worked into our offshore operations and for carrying VIP passengers.” He noted that Russia features a strong market for continued support of offshore oil and gas industries.
“In the international market, it’s deepwater offshore operations [that are growing], and if global warming keeps on doing the things it’s doing, we believe that forest firefighting operations will be one of the major trends worldwide.” Aside from offshore and firefighting, “supporting peacekeeping missions will also continue,” he added. “Most likely it will not be expanding too much, but still it will be quite solid.”
Eurocopter President & CEO Lutz Bertling and others from the company—including Laurence Rigolini, CEO of its Vostok subsidiary, and Christian Gras, executive vice president of customers, met with Martirosov and Russian/UTair representatives just prior to the announcement. A group of around 20 emerged from a back room at Eurocopter’s booth and headed toward the EC175 to make it official. UTair operates a fleet that consists of more than 250 helicopters, including the AS350B3, AS355N and BO105, as well as a number of Mil variants.
Martirosov shared his company’s plans for international expansion. “We will keep on growing and expanding in Latin America, in India, and we will expand our operations in Africa. We’ll be expanding within Russia as well, dedicated to operations supporting the oil and gas industry. Our plans are to double our current operations within the next five years.”