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​ROTORCRAFT: Airbus expects strong decade for civilian helicopters

Airbus Helicopters is confident of delivering 1,000 new civilian helicopters in the coming decade in the Asia-Pacific.

The European manufacturer expects fleet growth across all mission segments, driven both by fleet replacement and market growth, says Philippe Monteux, the company's regional head of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

He made the remarks in a media briefing at the Airbus Helicopters facility in Singapore's Seletar Aerospace Park.

Airbus Helicopters is actively promoting its developmental H160 helicopter in the region, with a full-sized mock-up of the type on the company's stand at the Rotorcraft Asia show.

Monteux says the H160 has yet to receive any orders in Asia-Pacific, with sales efforts for the type focusing on the offshore support and VIP missions.

The H160 will have a maximum take-off weight between 5.5-6t, making it lighter than the super-medium H175, which has a 7.5t MTOW. The H160 will also cost around 20-25% less than the H175.

One area where the company is placing a particular focus recently is safety, says Monteux. To this end, it is carrying out a serious of safety roadshows around the region.

The briefing was delivered in a conference room that the company has built in the Seletar hangar to serve as a delivery centre for customers.

The delivery centre is part of an rejigging of Airbus Helicopters' support infrastructure in the region, which sees its Singapore hangar focused on deliveries and completions, while its facility at Kuala Lumpur's Subang airport will focused on MRO work. Previously, Singapore also focused on MRO work.

"In order to make things smart and efficient, we need an ecosystem," says Monteux. "We need to work hand in hand with different partners to make a delivery. We have a lot of different suppliers, and we have strong cooperation with local authorities that allows us to deliver any aircraft in a very smooth manner. Singapore provides the right platform to continue in that direction."

Operational and Intermediary (O&I) maintenance will meanwhile be delivered locally at dispersed service centres.

Having greater support specialisation among Airbus Helicopters facilities across the region has several benefits, says Monteux. Namely, the company expects the strategy to lower costs and improve efficiency.

"These are the elements we're targeting through the specialisation of sites."

Monteux adds, however, that despite the bright outlook for the region, some markets remain especially challenging in the civilian segment, namely Myanmar and Vietnam, where militaries maintain tight control over airspace.

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