Airbus Corporate Helicopters has given a leading role to its newest star at this year’s EBACE, with the ACH160 medium-twin taking centre stage on its show stand.

“It is the new benchmark in the medium category,” says Frederic Lemos, the head of Airbus Corporate Helicopters. “It is the best-seller again this year in the medium category.”

Lemos ACH160-c-BillyPix

Source: BillyPix

Lemos says the Lounge cabin option offers strong value retention

To date, the airframer has delivered 10 VIP-roled examples of the new helicopter, which entered service in 2021, and has around another 30 units in its backlog.

Notable milestones over the last 12 months include the first deliveries to customers in the Philippines and Malaysia, says Lemos.

And at EBACE today Airbus will hand over the initial ACH160 configured with the Lounge seating option – the example on its stand — to Verona, Italy-based Air Corporate.

Lemos says the Lounge option “addresses those customers looking for a balanced blend of value retention, comfort and mission efficiency”.

Value retention is aided by the ease of cabin reconfiguration, says Lemos, making it simpler to convert for a “another mission in a second life”, a process which is “almost impossible” with the Exclusive version, due to a higher level of structural modifications.

The ACH160 Lounge delivery is the first to Air Corporate from a 43-unit order placed at last year’s show, a commitment it topped up today with the addition of two more ACH145s, both the ACH Line cabin solution.

Airbus Corporate Helicopters boasts a total backlog of around 120 units, dominated by light-single ACH130s and light-twin ACH145s – the latter the airframer’s best-seller last year, with 22 orders and 18 deliveries. “It is definitely the benchmark when it comes to light-twins,” he adds.

Back at its Marignane headquarters, the airframer has begun flight testing its new racer high-speed compound demonstrator, which should achieve 220kt (405km/h) in cruise.

While high-speed vertical take-off and landing capability is an attractive proposition for some users – for example, emergency medical services operators – Lemos thinks a Racer-derived product will have limited appeal in the corporate or VIP market.

“At this stage we that as a potential fit for governmental transport or certain corporate missions where there is a need for a quick transfer from headquarters to a factory or elsewhere where speed can be a factor.

“Beyond that, at this stage, we don’t foresee a large market from private clients because most of their missions are 30 to 45 minutes where speed is not a critical factor.”