The helicopters of Monaco


In September, all eyes in the superyacht market turn to Monaco, where hundreds of the world’s most luxurious boats come to berth in Port Hercules – and some of them equipped with helicopters.

Yacht customers still form but a niche market for helicopter manufacturers, but it’s a growing nche that manufacturers are taking seriously. This year at Monaco, two helicopter companies were showing off their products, Airbus and Leonardo.

Front and centre at the show, Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) displayed an ACH145 on board the world’s largest superyacht, REV Ocean. The yacht sits at a staggering 183 metres long and is the flagship of Kjell Inge Røkke’s not-for-profit oceanic research foundation also named Rev Ocean.

The vessel, which has two helidecks, was launched this year and is due for certification in early 2020. The helicopter will become a permanent fixture on the yacht, which will be used for research missions and be available for charter.

Airbus also has superyacht aspirations for its newest helicopter model, the H160. To pitch the aircraft to yacht owners, ACH demonstrated the corporate variant ACH160 by taking off, flying to and from and landing on the 139m Lürssen Flying Fox superyacht.

The first two ACH160s are on the final assembly line and the base commercial model is awaiting certification from EASA. The ACH160 will be delivered next year.

Airbus didn’t hide its light under a bushel about the presence of these two helicopters at Monaco. And, looking past the headlines, there was also an H135 at the show. The aircraft was aboard the 50-metre motor yacht Tankoa Binta D’or which was formally known as Elettraa which was built this year and debuted at Monaco. The aircraft is pictured at the top of this article.

Moving away from Airbus, Leonardo publicly debuted its first VIP-outfitted AW109 Trekker at the show. Following the end of the show, it was flown off to the United Kingdom and delivered to its new owner, Sloane Helicopters, the designated UK distributor for Leonardo.

Leonardo has a tremendous foothold in the light VIP market, with a 44% market share