Eurocopter UK's boss is on a mission to have his company regarded as a domestic player alongside rival AgustaWestland, as the EADS subsidiary ramps up its engineering centre and targets a bigger share of the country's civil and military helicopter market.

Speaking at Helitech, Markus Steinke claimed Eurocopter's fleet of 350 British-registered civil and 100 military helicopters made it market leader. "Yet when I ask people who has the most helicopters in the UK, they always say Westland," he said.

"Britain is unique in that it is home to the biggest offshore market in the world and is a country at war. We want to get across that vital functions of the UK are carried out by our company."

Although Eurocopter does not have production facilities in the UK, it employs 220 people at its Oxford headquarters, including 100 engineers working on completions and research and development. "The UK is not a metal-bashing country," said Steinke. "It is all about delivering high value and services. We feel at home here and we want to expand our footprint in the UK."

Eurocopter EC135 Hermes

Eurocopter UK was established two years ago when the Franco-German airframer bought out the majority stake of its UK distributor, construction company McAlpine. The move established a "totally holistic business covering defence to offshore", said Steinke.

The company is in the final stages of building an EC225 simulator training centre in Aberdeen. There are about 60 Puma family aircraft based in the UK oil capital, flying a total of 90,000h a year.

At Helitech, Eurocopter announced an order for a new EC135 from the West Midlands police air support unit. Until the new helicopter can be delivered in the middle of next year, Eurocopter will provide a used EC135 to replace the force's EC135 recently destroyed in an arson attack.

Source: Flight International