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Airbus Helicopters now serves 54% of rotorcraft market worldwide

Airbus Helicopters now serves 54% of rotorcraft market worldwide

Airbus Helicopters said this week its Super Puma family of H215 and H225 helicopters had a successful 2018, logging 17 orders worldwide for military applications while attracting civil customers with H225’s repurposed from the oil and gas industry.

French helicopters are no strangers to Africa. The infamous Alouette was the first-strike sky stinger in many armed conflicts while the Puma was the stallwart to move troops and the Super Frelon the workhorse in tricky rescue missions. These helicopters all came from the Aerospatiale stable.

Aerospatiale ultimately became part of Airbus, the Puma was updated and renamed the H215 with improved engines and slightly larger inside dimensions. This helicopter has continued its popularity in Airbus livery.

The Airbus media representative in southern Africa, Linden Birns, said “there are currently around 650 Airbus helicopters in active service across Africa. These include applications for military, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire-fighting, search & rescue, humanitarian aid, anti-poaching, environment and infrastructure management including powerline installation and maintenance.”

Airbus helicopters are also widely deployed in the offshore oil & gas industry, in mining, for surveys, in construction, in agriculture and tourism. These helicopters are popular as corporate and utility transporters, used both by governments and the private sector.

“About half of the total are light and medium Airbus helicopters in service with operators in Southern and Eastern Africa as well as the Indian Ocean islands,” stated Birns.

Airbus Helicopters also operates a wholly-owned regional subsidiary, Airbus Southern Africa, employing just over 100 skilled personnel at its main base and overhaul facility at Grand Central Airport near Johannesburg in South Africa and its two satellite facilities in Nairobi and Cape Town. It also operates Africa’s only full-motion Super Puma helicopter simulator and runs a training academy for pilots, engineers and technicians.

“Our commercial performance in 2018 demonstrates the resilience we have developed as a company to help us navigate what remains a challenging environment,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters Chief Executive.

“Even though the civil and parapublic market remains at a low level worldwide, we have managed to maintain our global leadership thanks to our wide and modern portfolio of products and services and our international footprint. Meanwhile, we have increased our market share in the military sector by securing major contracts with leading armed forces worldwide, with best-in-class solutions. These positive trends give us the means to prepare the future and continue our transformation, with innovation at our core and customer loyalty at heart,” he stated.

Worldwide, Airbus Helicopters delivered 356 rotorcraft and logged gross orders for 413 helicopters in 2018, up from 350 gross orders in 2017. The company also booked 148 orders for light twin-engined helicopters of the H135/H145 family and secured 15 orders for the next-generation H160.


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SADC Correspondent

SADC correspondents are independent contributors whose work covers regional issues of southern Africa outside the immediate Namibian ambit. Ed.