OEM orders and deliveries at EBACE 2019


The European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) is never really the go-to event for the civil helicopter market outside of those VIP-niche companies – but key OEMs are always in attendance and announce orders.

Airbus, Leonardo and Bell were present at the show, displaying their aircraft and also announcing a few orders. Whilst the largest order announcements are generally saved for Helitech or HeliExpo, this year’s EBACE week saw a number of VIP helicopter sales announced.

It is not just helicopters and jets that have a presence at EBACE either, this year even saw VTOL manufactures including Ehang, Volocopter and Lisa Airplanes either speaking or on the show floor.

Bell kicked off the show announcing that it had signed seven recent orders for the Bell 429 with unspecified corporate customers in Germany, Greece, Ukraine and Russia. The light twin-engine helicopter is Bell’s flagship in the corporate and VIP helicopter market.

The corporate Bell 429 features an interior designed by Italy-based design firm Mecaer Aviation Group and is configured with four passenger seats and sound-cancelling features. Duncan Van de Velde, Bell managing director for Europe said:

“The Bell 429 continues to increase its footprint in Europe with about a quarter of the global fleet being operated right here on this continent.

“The aircraft strikes the right balance of comfort, power and operational efficiency which is why it continues to be desirable in the corporate segment. Our customers appreciate the smoothness of the ride paired with the bespoke finishes which takes the experience of flight to the highest level of comfort.”

Bell announced the purchase agreement of one new Bell 505 with Austrian operator HUBI-FLY. Velde continued:

“We look forward to welcoming more customers to the Jet Ranger family including HUBI-FLY and making the aircraft a staple for corporate and tourism flights in Europe.”

The Leonardo AW139 is one of the most popular corporate and VIP helicopter models. However, it was the AW109 that netted orders at EBACE.

With a 40% share in the VIP multi-engine helicopter market, Leonardo is growing its presence in the UK by renewing a distributorship agreement with Sloane Helicopters for a further eight years and has also signed a contract at EBACE for an AW109 GrandNew and an AW109 Trekker in VIP configuration.

A Sloane representative said: “We are delighted and honoured to continue our close partnership with Leonardo Helicopters. The AW109 series and AW169 helicopters have consolidated their positions as the benchmark for helicopters in the corporate/VIP market.

“As the sole Distributor in the region for 24 years, Sloane Helicopters has an unrivalled understanding of customer requirements and continues to leverage this expertise by offering industry leading solutions throughout the sales process and after sales support.”

Airbus is the only manufacture with its own VIP subsidiary in Airbus Corporate Helicopters. At EBACE it announced the delivery of the first of two ACH145s to a private customer to fly to and land on superyacht.

The manufacturer announced the first of the ACH145s to an unspecified private customer at EBACE, and both helicopters will be used to fly to and from superyachts in the Mediterranean ad Caribbean on behalf of the owner.

Airbus has an 80% market share of helicopters flying to and from superyachts. There are approximately 100 helicopters in this market niche.

“We have been working in this market for a long time and we have been there to see it evolve,” Airbus Corporate Helicopter’s CEO Frederic Lemos told Helicopter Investor at EBACE 2019. “Whilst we don’t have any signed partnerships with yacht builders, we do collaborate a lot with yacht builders whenever they need information. We don’t have anything in writing yet, but it is not out of the question.”