Eurocopter expects more lucrative mix in 2011

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Eurocopter boss Lutz Bertling expects the EADS subsidiary's 2011 helicopter deliveries to be down on 2010's level, but an ongoing shift to larger aircraft, plus a rise in service revenue, will maintain revenue at 2010's level. Last year's numbers will be detailed on 9 March when EADS unveils its full-year performance figures.

Speaking in Paris, Bertling added that, in 2010, the unit made a profit, and that profit is not below the EADS average. The company's Shape restructuring plan is on target to deliver €200 million ($270 million) annual cost savings by the end of this year, he said.

In 2010, Eurocopter booked 346 orders, consisting of:

  • 143 AS350/AS355 Ecureuil/Fennec/EC310 family helicopters
  • 67 EC135s
  • 52 EC145s (including 40 UH-72A Lakotas)
  • 45 Super Puma/Cougar EC225/EC725 family helicopters
  • 27 Dauphin/Panther/EC155 family helicopters
  • 12 EC120 Colibri helicopters

For 2011, key civil developments will be the launch of the X4, a "game changing" successor to the 365 Dauphin, as well as the first flight of a new version of an existing, but unspecified, model. Eurocopter will also validate the first use of diesel engines in light helicopters, and make further improvements to its so-called "bluecopter" technologies, including the noise- and vibration-lowering Blue Pulse and Blue Edge programme.

A new EC225 simulation training facility will open in February 2011 in Aberdeen and new simulators are being installed in Brazil, China, Malaysia and Singapore. In addition, MRO joint ventures in Malaysia and Kazakhstan - where an EC145 assembly joint venture is also to be established - will be implemented this year. A "major" MRO venture is also under negotiation, says Bertling.

Separately, the company hopes to win approval to move its main blade plant from La Courneuve, near Paris, to a new, larger facility in Dugny, near Le Bourget, at a former French armed forces facility. The move, if approved, is expected before the end of 2013.

And, transfer to new facilities at its development site in Donauworth, Germany, is expected by October 2012, to bring all design and development operations together in a single location.