Airbus Helicopters believes its decision last year to launch a dedicated business aviation operation – mirroring the approach of its fixed-wing sister company – has already begun paying dividends.
The airframer in May 2017 unveiled Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) to handle all its offerings in the segment and provide customers with an "end-to-end" experience.
"One year after the launch of Airbus Corporate Helicopters we can say it was a success for us," says the division's chief executive Frédéric Lemos.
"We are grabbing market share from the competition, particularly in the light-twin segment."
In 2017, ACH had a claimed 70% share of the market for corporate or VIP-roled turbine helicopters over 1.3t maximum take-off weight.
Lemos says that ACH took in 58 gross orders last year, or 54 net, with around 70% of commitments from new customers.
The bulk of orders were for the ACH125 and ACH130 light-singles, but also included 13 light- or medium-twins – the German-built ACH135 and ACH145 – as well as a single ACH175 super-medium.
Key this year will be converting the "huge interest" from the market in the developmental ACH160 into firm orders.
ACH earlier this year signed two separate deals for the medium-twin: totalling five aircraft, these are the type's sole firm orders so far.
"It is very important for us this year. The ACH160 is a game-changer in the small medium category. We have started to enter into the process of submitting offers to the clients," says Lemos.
Certification for the baseline version of the Safran Helicopter Engines Arrano-powered twin is anticipated in 2019, with the Stylence corporate aviation model to arrive in 2020.
A more exclusive VIP variant – which requires a number of exterior modifications, including the addition of hinged doors and an electrically-actuated footstep – is scheduled for 2021.