Airbus Helicopters recorded an increase in new helicopter deliveries during 2016 despite its chief executive Guillaume Faury describing the year as “probably the most difficult of the last decade”.
With the continuing stagnation of the offshore sector and the fallout from April’s fatal accident in Norway which resulted in a world-wide grounding of the H225 (EC225LP) Super Puma family, the French helicopter manufacturer delivered 418 civil and military helicopters in 2016, a five per cent increase on its 2015 figures, and booked 388 orders, which represented a marginal increase on the prior year.
Its new bookings – comprising of 188 H120/H125s, 83 H135s, 80 H145s, six H155/Dauphins, eight H175s and 23 H225/Super Pumas – added to Airbus Helicopters’ order backlog which stood at 766 at the end of last year.
“The multiple challenges faced in 2016 have increased our resolve to support our customers with an ever-increasing commitment to quality and safety, leveraging the most modern portfolio of products and services”, said Faury.
“For the rotorcraft industry as a whole, 2016 was probably the most difficult year of the last decade. Despite this challenging market environment we delivered on our operational objectives and proceeded with the execution of our transformation plan.”
Highlights for the year from its civil catalogue included its first VIP configured H175 entering service, a Chinese consortium signing an order for 100 H135s to be assembled locally over the next decade and the certification of its Helionix-equipped H135 by EASA in November.
On the military front, 2016 saw the H225M selected by both Singapore and Kuwait, the H135 and H145 chosen by the UK’s Ministry of Defence for its military flight training platform and the first deliveries of the new AS565 MBe Panther naval helicopter to Mexico and Indonesia.
Airbus Helicopters said its global fleet of about 12,000 helicopters in service with more than 3,000 operators worldwide reached 90 million flight hours in 2016.