Patrice Royer, director market development, commercial business and private segment at Eurocopter, believes that “a helicopter is the perfect complement to a business jet. People use business jets to save time, but then use road transportation, for example landing at Teterboro and then spending two hours in traffic getting to ?xml:namespace>New York. In a helicopter that journey is only 12 minutes.”
Business jet sales are growing and with that growth, Eurocopter is seeing growth. Royer attributes this growth to the rise in demand for helicopters that are for both private and corporate use.
In 2006, Eurocopter sales of commercial helicopters increased by 135% over 2005. Business and corporate helicopters accounted for an increase of 34%.
“Our message to EBACE is we are dedicated to business aviation. We are staying ahead of the market and anticipating the needs of our customers,” says Royer.
On display at its booth is an EC135 light twin. “The EC135 is so widely used by a variety of operators because it is reliable, has good performance, clam shell rear doors, and many customers say it has the best value for money,” says Royer. “Presently the orderbook for EC135s stands at around 700. It is our best-seller, it’s also the best-selling light twin helicopter worldwide.”
In the helicopter static display is an EC155B1. “It is often called the flying carpet because it is so smooth, fast and roomy.” The EC155 is part of the Dauphin family and offers 40% more cabin room than the AS365 Dauphin.
AgustaWestland does not believe the link is that strong between rotary and fixed-wing flight and is displaying an A109 Grand and its AW139.
“Customers that buy a helicopter buy one because of their lifestyle and working style. People that buy business jets do not necessarily buy a helicopter. They are two different environments and in reality the two don’t overlap very often. For example, of people who own a Ferrari, maybe 5% have a helicopter. It is the same with helicopters and business jets,” says Renzo Lunardi, senior vice-president sales and marketing.
“EBACE is an important event for us – 30% of our commercial sales are to business aviation users and we have a strong position with the new Koala enhanced.
“The AW139 is ideally placed because we do not see it as having any competition. Looking forward, we now have three BA609 prototypes flying and are constantly expanding the flight envelope. We’re now seeing speeds of 310kt [575km/h]. We expect certification in 2010 or 2011 and already have 80 orders,” adds Lunardi.