Eurocopter is confident of gaining certification for both its EC175 and EC145T2 helicopters in the first half of 2014 as the manufacturer sticks to the types' revised approval targets.
Speaking in Bangkok - the last leg of a promotional tour of Southeast Asia for the helicopters - Jochen Schmid, sales manager, oil and gas at Eurocopter, estimated a market of around 30-50 examples of the 7.5t EC175 in the region over the next five years. The primary target of the EC175, which can carry up to 18 passengers, is the offshore transportation sector.
The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-powered EC175 is also being marketed in a VIP role with a search and rescue variant to follow later. However, the oil and gas sector remains the primary focus for Eurocopter, wit the vast majority of the aircraft sold so far destined for this mission.
Following certification of the EC175 - anticipated in early 2014 - the first customer deliveries should take place before the end of the year to three operators - UTair, NHV and Heli-Union.
Meanwhile, Eurocopter is pitching the upgraded EC145T2 for a number of roles, including VIP transport and parapublic missions. The enhanced variant of the EC145 gains a new avionics suite, shrouded Fenestron tail rotor and uprated Turbomeca Arriel 2E powerplants.
During the tour of Southeast Asia - which also included stops in Malaysia and Vietnam - the company flew several flights for potential customers as well as regional and trade media. Neither aircraft will attend the Singapore air show in February, however, because they are required back in Europe for the certification effort.
Although Eurocopter has been mired in difficulties this year with its heavier EC225, particularly in the key North Sea region, it stresses that the issues with the Super Puma have not affected sales presentations for the EC175 during the tour. This, it says, is mainly because the company has taken great pains to keep customers appraised of remedial efforts related to the former type.
Eurocopter's fixes for the EC225 have been approved by regulators and are slowly being rolled out across the global fleet. However, operators are being cautious with their return-to-service schedule.