Airbus Helicopters plans to bid the H135 as the new U.S. Navy training helicopter.
Airbus Helicopters recorded gross orders for 413 helicopters last year, up 18 percent from the 350 helicopters in 2017, the company said on Jan. 23.
Bruno Even, the CEO of Airbus Helicopters, said in a statement that the company's "commercial performance in 2018 demonstrates the resilience we have developed as a company to help us navigate what remains a challenging environment."
Among the bookings in 2018 were 148 for light twin engine helicopters in the H135/145 family and 15 orders for the next-generation H160.
Airbus sees significant prospects ahead for those rotorcraft, including bidding the H135 for the U.S. Navy's future training helicopter and offering the H160 for helicopter emergency medical services worldwide. The U.S. Navy wants to purchase as many as 125 IFR certified training helicopters within five years to replace the service's TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopters. Likely competitors against the H135 are the Leonardo TH-119 and the Bell 407GXi, a descendant of the TH-57.
Airbus Helicopters also sees an international market for the H135 and delivered the first of 100 H135s for China in Qingdao, where a final assembly line "will serve the growing demand of the Chinese market for civil and para-public helicopters," Airbus said. In addition, Hong Kong Government Flying Service took delivery of the first H175s in public services configuration.
“Even though the civil and para-public market remains at a low level worldwide, we have managed to maintain our global leadership thanks to our wide and modern portfolio of products and services and our international footprint," Even said. "Meanwhile, we have increased our market share in the military sector by securing major contracts with
leading armed forces worldwide, with best-in-class solutions."
Airbus also pointed to other promising developments last year, including sales of the "re-purposed" H225 for new civil and para-public buyers, sales of the NH90 in Qatar and Spain, flight trials of the first serial configuration H160, and the first flights of the VSR700 unmanned aerial system.
In addition, Airbus pointed to the power-on and ground testing of the CityAirbus electrical vertical take-off and landing technology demonstrator last year in advance of a debut flight expected early this year.