Eurocopter promises four new rotorcraft by 2020

Paris
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At least four brand-new helicopters will be added to Eurocopter's range by 2020, as the airframer works to renew its line-up.

Speaking at its end-of-year press conference in Paris on 24 January, chief executive Lutz Bertling said Eurocopter was progressing as scheduled towards the 2015 first flight of its developmental X4 - a replacement for the venerable 4.5t EC155 Dauphin.

Last year saw the confirmation of a substantial proportion of the type's suppliers, including engines from both Turbomeca and Pratt & Whitney Canada. Bertling says the supply chain is now "fully locked down and on track" and describes the type as "in full development".

Its arrival will be followed by the introduction "with a minimum of two years delay in each case" by the X6 and X9. Although Eurocopter has revealed little about either programme, the X6 is a replacement for its 11t twin-engined EC225 Super Puma and the X9 is an all-new light twin.

However, the first new model is the super-medium-class EC175, which is on course to make its entry into service later this year.

Bertling says the new product family is "based on what we have done with the X4 and partially on the EC175". He adds: "We will have four new products in the market in a very foreseeable time."

There may also be a fifth addition to its line-up. The Marseille-headquartered airframer is still working on potential applications for the compound helicopter technology it has been evaluating on its X3 demonstrator.

Bertling says: "Clearly we have proven the concept and proven this is not a high-speed but a high-productivity aircraft. We are now going to the first sketches on the drawing board showing how a serial helicopter might look."

Eurocopter is still undecided as to whether it will offer the X3 as a stand-alone product or as an option elsewhere in its range.