Marenco Swisshelicopter (Booth N3712) plans to discuss the progress of its SKYe SH09 at Heli-Expo. The helicopter has received a total of 35 orders through early 2013, with deliveries targeted to begin in 2015. The company will announce the appointment of one distributor and representative for the Asia-Pacific region, according to Mathias Senes, commercial and strategy director.
“We are working very hard and that’s something that’s not just a myth,” he said. “The targets that we fixed are imposing on us. We knew from the beginning that this planning was tight, some people mention that we were a little too virtual during the 2011 launch, but as our CEO said, ‘If we don’t have this kind of tight planning, then nothing will fly for 10 years.’”
Deliveries are still planned for 2015, Senes told Rotor & Wing. “Keep in mind, we do plan for a small number of aircraft in 2015. We don’t want to extend the risk over too much of a big fleet, so we figure that if we deliver 30 to 50 aircraft in the first couple of years, that will be quite enough to handle in terms of keeping support.”
SKYe SH09 at Heli-Expo 2012 in Dallas. Photo courtesy of Marenco
On the development, he continued, “we announced early last year that we would fly in 2012. But then after we made the announcement, we decided not to produce an experimental aircraft—which was the initial plan, to fly it very quickly. We realized that we needed to make a prototype, being recordable in the certification process, which is not the case for an X1 type of helicopter.”
But Marenco remains optimistic that the timeline—which calls for the first flight of the prototype during 2013—will remain intact. “What we have lost in preparing the prototype, we should gain back in the certification process.”
The company also plans to uncover the latest modifications to the helicopter’s Sagem instrument panel, which will include reducing the cockpit displays from 10 inches to 8 inches. Marenco is not committing to an exact date for certification of the Honeywell HTS-900-2 powered SH09, but the company is “fully engaged” with EASA in the type certification process.
“We’re leading the certification through EASA, with the support of the Swiss aviation authority, and in parallel in the U.S., we have full-time ex-FAA certification officers to correspond with our team and inform the FAA and Transport Canada of our progress,” he said. The seven-passenger SH09 prototype is currently being assembled and is projected to have a 140-knot cruise speed with a 430 nautical mile range.
When asked what it feels like to be a new entrant in the helicopter industry, Senes responded: “It’s quite nice. It’s fantastic in many areas. What was really tremendous—and I think it’s quite unique in our industry—is that we came into the market, we showed that we had a good idea, we’re sustaining that this good idea will push through, and what’s very interesting is that we are being considered by the market in the same way as if we were not totally Eurocopter, but as if we were a helicopter manufacturer.” Certification constraints that are imposed by regulatory bodies, he continued, make it so operators “feel that, ‘If you have your EASA diploma, why would I not fly? Why would I not take your helicopter?’ And that’s the kind of response we get.”
Of course, he continued, “We have a lot to do to convince the major players. But still, the enthusiasm within the company, this ability to be tickling giants from the industry with a team of 50, is motivating us to bring something to the market.”
Senes continued that another advantage of being a new entrant is “the interest that we generate for other helicopter industrial players, not only when we shake a little bit of the tree with the market—that’s one thing—but what’s very interesting is how deep we can go in discussions with some of the players when they look at what we’re doing and think about how they could benefit from working together.” While there are no official agreements in place, Marenco is “speaking to some big players. Some partnerships could come out of this,” he added.
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