Eurocopter has put back commercial sales of its EC145 medium-twin utility helicopter for around 12 months, until the production backlog, totalling 40 machines for the French security forces, has been cleared. Advertising and promotion of the Turboméca Arriel 2E1-powered machine has also been delayed temporarily.

Eurocopter president Siegfried Sobotta says: "As a result of French domestic orders [totalling around $170 million] in hand, we can't deliver before 2001-2."

The EC145, developed jointly with Japan's Kawasaki, is a successor to the partnership's BK117 utility machine and has completed about 150h of flight testing since its first flight last June. A second aircraft is to join the programme "soon". Technical details remain sketchy, but it is believed the EC145 will incorporate some of the cockpit and forward fuselage features of the EC135 twin.

The French Securité Civile is the launch customer for the EC145, with orders for 32, while the Gendarmerie wants eight.

Source: Flight International