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Russian billionaire linked to first H175 VIP variant

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first VIP variant of its super-medium-class H175, but speculation surrounds the identity of the owner.

The manufacturer declines to reveal the name of the operator, going so far as to remove the tail number from photographs. However, Flight Fleets Analyzer lists the registration as G-DLBR and the operator as Klaret Sky Leasing, a company registered in Malta.

It also features a livery that bears a striking similarity to that on an Isle of Man-registered Airbus ACJ340-300 (M-IABU), which is owned by Cayman Islands-based Klaret Aviation. Nicknamed “Bourkhan”, it is used by Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.

Airbus Helicopters says the customer of the H175 will “operate it in Europe as a complement to [a] yacht”.

This further points to Usmanov as the likely recipient, with the billionaire having recently taken delivery of a super yacht that features twin helipads.

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Anthony Pecchi/Airbus Helicopters

The manufacturer says the H175 features a seven-passenger layout designed by business aircraft and yacht specialist Pegasus Design.

Divided into two zones, the forward part of the cabin is configured with club seating and a galley area, while the aft section accommodates three passengers in sofa-style seating.

Operational in the oil and gas segment since 2014, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-powered H175 has struggled to expand its operator base far beyond Belgian launch customer Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen.

A second VIP-roled example will be delivered later this year, says Airbus Helicopters, with the first in a search and rescue configuration – for Hong Kong’s Government Flying Service – to be delivered in late 2017.

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