Airbus booked 23 Super Puma orders last year. Photo courtesy of Airbus
Airbus Helicopters comes to Heli-Expo as it reports solid performance in global and North American sales and celebrates anniversaries of two of its aircraft.
The multinational manufacturer in late January reported deliveries of 418 rotorcraft in 2016. That marked a 5% increase over its 2015 deliveries and came in the midst of a challenging market.
In North America, the company claimed its units captured half of new helicopter sales last year.
At the show, the manufacturer is marking the 50th anniversary of the BO105 the 20th anniversary of its H135 product line.
Airbus Helicopters Inc. and Airbus Helicopters Canada Ltd. solidified their position as the North American market leader in civil and parapublic helicopters in 2016 despite a difficult market environment that saw a dramatic decline in total industry orders.
In announcing its 2016 deliveries, Airbus said it had strengthened its lead in the world’s civil and parapublic helicopter market and maintained its standing in the military market.
Airbus Helicopters delivered 418 rotorcraft in 2016, a five percent increase compared with 2015, against a challenging market backdrop. The company strengthened its lead on the civil and parapublic helicopter market while maintaining its position on the military market.
“For the rotorcraft industry as a whole, 2016 was probably the most difficult year of the last decade,” Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury said. “Despite this challenging market environment we delivered on our operational objectives and proceeded with the execution of our transformation plan.”
The CEO said his company logged gross orders for 388 helicopters last year, which he said was a stable performance compared to the 383 gross orders of 2015. In 2016, he said, bookings notably included 188 orders for light-single engine helicopters, 163 orders for the H135/H145 light twins and 23 for the Super Puma family. At the end of the year, the company’s overall backlog stood at 766 helicopters.
Faury said the ongoing predicaments of market and their effects on helicopter operators have led Airbus focus even more on customer support.
“The multiple challenges faced in 2016 have increased our resolve to support our customers with an ever-increasing commitment to quality and safety, leveraging the most modern portfolio of products and services,” Faury said.
Civil market highlights of 2016 included the first H175 medium-twin helicopter in VIP configuration entering service and the start of flight testing of the public services variant that aircraft. (Certification of that variant is scheduled for this year.)
Other highlights includes a Chinese consortium’s order for 100 H135s to be assembled in China over the next 10 years.
Also, certification of the Helionix-equipped version of the H135 was granted by EASA in November, while flight-testing activities of the next-generation H160 continued at a steady pace throughout the year, paving the way for the first firm orders to be signed in 2017
Faury said other highlights of last year included success in key military campaigns for the H225M, which was selected by Singapore and Kuwait, as well as for the H135/H145 family, which was selected in the UK for military flight training. Last year also saw first deliveries of the new AS565 MBe Panther naval helicopter to Mexico and Indonesia and the first flight of the NH90 Sea Lion for the German Navy, he said.
In 2016 the global fleet of approximately 12,000 Airbus helicopters, in service with more than 3,000 operators worldwide, reached 90 million flight hours; helping customers save lives, protect people and carry out their most demanding missions on a daily basis.
In North America, Airbus Helicopters Inc. and Airbus Helicopters Canada Ltd. were reported to have delivered a combined 60 new helicopters to the civil and parapublic market in 2016. The companies claimed that equaled 50% of the total deliveries in North America.
The companies said they booked a total of 64 new orders, or about 73% of all new helicopter bookings in North America. In deliveries and bookings, the companies said, they increased their share of the North American helicopter market.
Airbus Helicopters is celebrating two decades of operations with the H135. More than 300 customers in 75 countries operate the H135 for a wide range of missions, including emergency medical services (EMS), law enforcement, corporate transport, offshore wind and military flight training.