Under a section titled “Strategy Review Update” within its first half 2013 financial results report on July 31, European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS) – the conglomerate that formed in 2001 and includes subsidiaries such as Astrium, ATR, Cassidian, Dassault Aviation, EADS North America, Eurocopter, Eurofighter and Socate – announced that it will consolidate and take the name of flagship brand Airbus. Eurocopter will become Airbus Helicopters as part of a wide-reaching effort to reshape the company’s image as it competes on a global scale with Boeing.
The adjustments will result in Airbus Group consisting of three main divisions – commercial aircraft, defense and space (to include military transport), and Airbus Helicopters, covering “all commercial and military helicopter activities.” EADS stated that the helicopter division “will remain unchanged.”
The first phase of the rebranding will start in January 2014, with the second stage projected for completion later that year. Details are still sparse concerning how the renaming will impact helicopter designations (will an EC135 become an AB135 or AH135?) and how Eurocopter’s network of regional and country-based subsidiaries will factor into the name change. EADS/Airbus intends to shed more light on the transition plans during fourth quarter 2013.
Over the long run, the rebranding may prove to accomplish a number of company objectives. The acronym-heavy EADS is indeed clunky and in need of a switch.
But in the short term, the planned alteration of an iconic brand such as Eurocopter – at least within the rotorcraft industry – is generating a fair amount of kickback. Respondents to a question on Rotor & Wing’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/rotorandwing) summed it up well, describing Eurocopter as a “fantastic” and “very good/great” name with a strong reputation. Too regional? Maybe. Loyalists are certain to defend the name, but at least it is morphing into a known brand in the aviation industry, and not something out of the blue like “Aircopters” or “Helibus,” as catchy as each of those might sound on first blush.
Below are some (mostly tongue-in-cheek) responses that appeared on R&W’s Facebook page to a July 31 question about the plans to discard Eurocopter in favor of Airbus Helicopters:
• “Aircopter… anyway its inevitable.”
• “Why not Helibus?”
• “Maybe they plan on developing larger bus-sized helicopters and they thought the name change to anything with the word ‘bus’ in it was more appropriate.”
• “Why not change Airbus to Europlane?”
• “Very fitting for rotary air transport. Eurocopter brings to mind a European product. Airbus is more worldly in its name brand appeal. There is much to be said for protectionism and a generic name may better suit marketing purposes than a regional name.”
• “AB120? AH120? It’ll all be EC to me, I still call the 145 a BK117.”
• “The bus part, usually makes me think of something slow, and unnerving at turns.”
• “That’s like going from Ferrari to minivan. Not sexy at all!”
• “Re-branding is about upgrading product image. But changing Eurocopter to Airbus just simply downgrades it to that of a bus image, going from premium elite to plebeian. It’s the bus in Airbus that just isn’t right!”
• “When it comes to spending millions of Euros/dollars the last thing that accountants think about is a name. Airbus Helicopters. Hmmm, catchy name, I think not! I bet they have spent millions re-branding...”
• “If it improves parts availability, I’m all for it! Doubt it though...”
EADS has made its decision. Time to get on the bus.
What do you think of the plan to change Eurocopter’s name to Airbus Helicopters? Submit your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and post on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rotorandwing
As an addendum to last month’s column on helicopter noise (“As the Rotors Turn: Public Nuisance or White Noise?”), I would like to share responses to a July 16 question on the topic at R&W’s Facebook page. The responses were mostly from helicopter enthusiasts, some of whom compared helicopter noise to a ground-based emergency vehicle passing by, while others noted the need for OEMs, operators and public officials to continue supporting efforts to reduce helicopter noise.
Hayden Goldman falls “definitely in between,” on the issue. “You can’t fly like an idiot and expect people not to complain. Some missions require it, I get it. But if you bought near an airport… please.” Bob Leder noted that he loves the sound of helicopters, “but the fact is that the general public’s perception of linking helicopters with unacceptable noise is one of the problems that continues to hinder the development of much-needed heliports in urban areas.”
According to Bakhit Kourman, helicopter noise is “the same as police sirens on the road. If there is no sound of a chopper in the sky, the city feels dead.”
Others expressed pleasure in hearing the sound, referred to as “music to my ears” from one respondent. “Helicopters noisy?” asked Shayne Meder. “I live 1,000 feet from an Air Force base runway… F-16s can be noisy, but I love the noise! Sound of freedom!”