EBACE 2021: Airbus Corporate Helicopters


Helicopter trends on superyachts, the new ACH 160 helicopter and a partnership with Aston Martin were the highlights of the Airbus Corporate Helicopters press conference at EBACE 2021.

The ACH160 is the premium version of the new H160 helicopte, which was certified by EASA last July.

Frederic Lemos, head of ACH, said: “The aircraft was certified in July last year. Covid-19 has delayed the capacity to meet the lead times we were foreseeing.” However, Lemos was confident that deliveries would begin late this year and in early 2022. Airbus has received orders from customers in eight countries across North America, Latin America, Europe, China and South-East Asia.

Lemos did not specify how many but mentioned there would be deliveries in the New York area. A video played during the conference showed the speed and manoeuvrability of the ACH 160, competing against a Renault Formula One car.

Elsewhere, ACH models 135 and 145 are popular options for operation on superyachts, said Lemos.

“The superyacht segment is a great niche in the market. Airbus Corporate Helicopters has more than a 70% market share, with the ACH 135 and 145 perfectly suited to the role.”

The top end of the superyacht market saw the most demand for helicopters aboard, with owners adding up to two helidecks sometimes. He said Airbus is tracking 78 new builds on yachts, meaning increased demand for more units is a possibility.

The ACH 130, complete with Aston Martin interior, is another example of how the company is serving the very top end of the market. “We’ve sold seven ACH 130 Aston Martin editions,” said Lemos.

In the past, the company has collaborated with Hermès and Mercedes Benz to produce similar ranges. Lemos told viewers the increasing need for customisation of interiors is a longer-term trend. An in-house Creative Design department offers bespoke solutions to customers.

When asked whether existing ACH products would shape the urban air mobility platforms, Lemos said: “When it will come to UAM platforms, the first clientele will be ultra-high net worth individuals [UHNWI]. And UNHWI are 80% of ACH customers. So, at this stage we are not yet shaping the market in this direction, but ACH will have an important role to play in the future in the market.”

The company showed 289 gross orders (net: 268) and 300 rotorcraft deliveries in 2020. These are down compared with 2019’s figures, which stood at 369 orders and 332 deliveries and ensured a 54% market share.

Lemos added: “The sub segments more impacted are the medium to large aircraft. Single engine aircraft and light have not suffered that much. We see a lot of transactions happening on the H130, which is the market favourite, with the H125.”

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