Eurocopter is being out-competed by its rivals in the medium-weight class, according to the airframer's chief executive, although he believes the arrival of its new 7.5t EC175 next year will reverse its fortunes in the segment.
Speaking at an investor forum for parent company EADS on 11 December, Guillaume Faury – who has been at the helm of Eurocopter since May – said the company is not capitalising on the growth in the civil market for medium-weight helicopters and has "significantly lost ground" against its rivals.
"The Dauphin and EC155 are not competing appropriately against the AgustaWestland AW139 mainly, but not only," he says. "But this is a segment where we will change the game with the entry in to service of the EC175 next year. It is an aircraft that is clearly awaited by the market."
He believes the EC175 – which has suffered from delays to its development schedule – will "restore our position" in the segment. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-powered helicopter is the "masterpiece of our strategy for the next years", says Faury, confirming that certification is on track for the first quarter of 2014.
The segment is "becoming so big and important for all manufacturers", says Faury, that it will have a second new medium-class helicopter from 2017 with the arrival of the in-development X4, considered the direct replacement for the 4.9t EC155.
Technology validated by its X3 demonstrator programme will also appear on future helicopters to be launched in 2014 and 2015, he adds.
Faury also outlined his vision for the company when it becomes Airbus Helicopters in the new year. It will look to "embed" Airbus's DNA in the business to help it to develop "high-end products with a lot of innovation", he says. It will gain from the industrial excellence and innovation of its sister company, he adds.