Eurocopter announced at the Paris Air Show that receiving formal EASA approval for an EC225 retrofit kit – intended to solve the ongoing main gearbox issue – is a matter of days.
“We have found the full set of explanation, the full root cause; we have agreed with the authorities on the technical content of the measures that will allow return into service,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, chief technical officer. The first retrofitted aircraft is planned to be ready by the end of the month or mid-July at the latest.
EC225 in the colors of CHC. Photo courtesy of Eurocopter
To be sure of having fully understood the problem’s cause, Eurocopter conducted extensive ground and flight testing. One EC225 test team went as far as a deliberate shaft failure. “It is not only a question of approval by the authorities, it is also a question of confidence from our customers and their passengers,” Dumont said.
The retrofit kit is a short-term solution for the in-service fleet, but Eurocopter engineers are also working on a new shaft design.
CEO Guillaume Faury admitted the situation has had an impact on sales. “During the first half of 2013, we’ve had slow deliveries and bookings,” he noted. The company took provisions that appear in its 2012 financial performance.
Even the EC175 program is feeling the impact of the EC225’s woes. Certification has been postponed to early 2014. “In light of recent events, we are running many kinds of maturation tests on what could be the weak points of the aircraft,” Dumont said. The first deliveries will be to UTair, NHV and Heli-Union.
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