Airbus Helicopters took in net orders for 148 rotorcraft in the first half of 2014 – a fall of 11% on the same period last year – amid signs of a weaker than expected market for civil helicopters.

Speaking on a 30 July results call, Tom Enders, chief executive of Airbus Group, said the commercial market was “still pretty soft”.

“It is growing, but frankly it is not the kind of growth trajectory we had expected only a few years ago,” he says.

Nonetheless, the airframer hopes to “make inroads” into the market with new products like the 7.5t EC175, which will enter service in the fourth quarter.

Airbus chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm says research and development spending at the unit was also “a bit above plan” in the first half, as Airbus Helicopters “stepped up” its entry-into-service preparations for both the EC175 and the EC145 T2.

First delivery of the EC145 T2 – the latest variant of the 3.6t rotorcraft – will take place at a ceremony at the manufacturer’s Donauwörth, Germany production facility on 31 July, to launch customer DRF Luftrettung.

Wilhelm describes both new helicopters as the beginning of the “renewal of the product line” at the airframer.

The “crisis” involving the EC225 that “plagued” the company in 2012 and 2013 is “now behind us”, Enders adds.

A fleet-wide retrofit of a replacement bevel gear vertical shaft – the faulty component that precipitated a virtual worldwide grounding – will begin in September, Wilhelm says, with the first aircraft produced with the new part delivered in June.

Overall, first-half revenue grew by 8% to €2.8 billion ($3.8 billion) – up from €2.5 billion a year earlier. Earnings before interest and taxes rose by 17% to €150 million, from €128 million.

Deliveries rose to 200, up from 190 a year earlier – in part driven by the ramp up on the NH Industries NH90 programme, in which Airbus Helicopters is a partner.