Airbus Helicopters reports ‘record year’ for H145 model
By Jen Nevans and retrieved from Vertical Magazine
“What we have seen in 2023 is a steady helicopter market still recovering from the low point that we had in 2020,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, during a media briefing on Jan. 23.
While the company is still not performing at its same pre-pandemic levels, lagging about 20 percent below 2019’s performance, Even still calls 2023 a “solid and strong year” for Airbus.
The company delivered 346 helicopters to 179 customers in 47 countries, representing a preliminary 54 percent share of the market.
“Airbus Helicopters’ order intake in 2023, with an increase bordering 10 percent in units in comparison to 2022, highlights its stable growth despite the ongoing global context of inflation and geopolitical instability,” Even said.
The H145, in particular, has experienced a record year with 186 orders for the type in 2023. Its military variant attracted the attention of German Bundeswehr, which placed an order for up 82 of the light attack helicopter — the largest order for the H145M type. The H145 has logged more than seven million flight hours since the beginning of the program.
Sales of the H125 also performed well with 108 orders in 2023, followed by the H130 with 39 orders, and the H135 with 29 orders. Even said the H135 maintains a strong position in the emergency medical services (EMS), private and business aviation, and oil-and-gas markets.
The executive said there has also been “good momentum” for the company’s H160, which finally received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification in 2023 — three years after the type’s approval in Europe. The company logged 26 orders for the H160 last year.
“More importantly, we can say that we have customers for all the market segments that we target for the H160,” Even said. This includes the energy segment, private and business aviation, search-and-rescue, law enforcement, military, and EMS.
In total, Airbus helicopters have logged more than three million flight hours in 2023. Even calls the company’s performance a “testament to the versatility of our products on both the civil and military market.”
In a company press release, Airbus highlighted other milestones over the last year, including the first flight of the NH90 Sea Tiger, an anti-submarine warfare helicopter for the German Navy, and delivery of the Spanish Navy’s first H135 helicopter.
“On the development side, the H175M successfully performed flight demonstrations in the extreme hot and high conditions of the desert in Saudi Arabia, while the VSR700 demonstrated its performance during sea trials from a French Navy multi-mission frigate,” Even stated.
On the sustainability side of the business, Airbus achieved the first flight of the DisruptiveLab demonstrator in 2023, designed to reduce fuel consumption through a new aerodynamic architecture.
“In the same way as the DisruptiveLab will be used to test hybridization for single-engine helicopters, we unveiled the PioneerLab with the aim of testing hybridization for twin-engine aircraft, as well as introducing bio-based materials,” Even stated.
The company also started assembling its CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL in Donauwörth, Germany, last year, and expects to carry out first flights of the novel aircraft in 2024.
Meanwhile, it’s FlightLab achieved a first in the helicopter industry when it successfully tested an electric flight control system that allowed for a single pilot stick to replace all three conventional pilot controls.
Looking ahead to 2024, Airbus said customer support remains one of its top priorities. The company has signed 140 new helicopters to its global support and HCare offering in 2023, bringing the total to 2,760 helicopters.
Airbus plans to release its 2023 full-year financial results on Feb. 15, 2024.
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