Eurocopter has warned that the support network for its new super medium EC175 must be ready to cope with service entry of the type or it will push back the initial deliveries to operators.

Although it remains confident of achieving certification in the first quarter of 2014, with deliveries scheduled to begin shortly after, it has initiated a series of meeting with customers to discuss the programme’s broader readiness. These could commence as soon as next week.

Engineering and customer support resources at Eurocopter are already stretched as the airframer attempts to ensure the return to service of the EC225 – which had been grounded due to a gearbox issue – goes as smoothly as possible.

Dominique Maudet, executive vice-president global business and services, says: “We need to ensure the [EC225] is available and that we are bringing more value to customers compared with the [Sikorsky] S-92.”

The next six to 12 months will be vital to ensure customer service is “where we were previously, if not even better”, says Maudet, noting that deliveries of the EC175 are due to begin “within the same timeframe”.

“We are discussing with all our customers to ensure that we are successful with the entry into service of the EC175 in a similar period,” he says.

“It is just a matter of discussing with customers to ensure the appropriate level of industrialisation, maturity and readiness of the helicopter.”

Spare part availability and crew and technician training are some of the areas to check, says Maudet.

Certification of the EC175 has already been pushed back twice, the latest delay having been announced at the Paris air show in June.

Three operators – UTAir, Héli-Union and Nordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen – will take the initial aircraft deliveries next year.

Source: Flight International