The German interior ministry has placed a DM220 million ($124 million) order for 22 new Eurocopter helicopters to modernise the border-guard fleet.

The order includes 13 AS365 Dauphin N4s to satisfy a light transport helicopter (LTH) requirement, and nine more EC135s, with two options, to meet a requirement for liaison and observation helicopters. The Dauphins are to be delivered from 1998, with the EC135s coming a year later. The last helicopters will be handed over in 2001. Eurocopter was competing against Boeing, offering its MD900, and Bell, offering its 412.

The liaison-and-observation role is now fulfilled by 32 SA 318C Alouettes, while 13 Bell UH-1Ds and eight Bell 212s act as LTH aircraft. These are now to be replaced because of their age, and high maintenance and overhaul costs, as well as the introduction of more-stringent JAR-OPS3 safety rules coming into force on 1 April, 1998.

Both types can be operated under instrument flight rules with a high degree of all-weather capability, says Eurocopter.

The EC135 has been ordered by the German army and by two police squadrons. The border guard has become the first public-service customer for the Dauphin N4.

The contract brings the EC135 orderbook up to 100 units since certification 18 months ago. Eurocopter has boosted production twice within a year, from the originally planned 20 to 30, and now to 50 from the start of 1998.

Source: Flight International