Airbus Helicopters delivered 418 rotorcraft in 2016, a five percent increase compared with 2015, against a challenging market backdrop, the company said.
Airbus Helicopters logged gross orders for 388 helicopters in 2016, a stable performance compared to the 383 gross orders of 2015, it said on 27 January. In 2016, bookings notably included 188 orders for light-single engine helicopters, 163 orders for the H135/H145 light-twins and 23 for the Super Puma family. At the end of 2016, the overall backlog stood at 766 helicopters.
“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 Guillaume Faury, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Helicopters. “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”, he added.
Highlights of 2016 included success in key military campaigns for the H225M, which was selected by Singapore and Kuwait, as well as for the H135/H145 family which was selected in the UK for military flight training. Last year also saw first deliveries of the new AS565 MBe Panther naval helicopter to Mexico and Indonesia and the first flight of the NH90 Sea Lion for the German Navy.
On the civil side, the first H175 medium-twin helicopter in VIP configuration entered service in 2016, while the public services variant began flight-testing ahead of certification in 2017. A Chinese consortium signed an order for 100 H135s to be assembled locally over the next ten years. Certification of the Helionix-equipped version of the H135 was granted by EASA in November, while flight-testing activities of the next-generation H160 continued at a steady pace throughout the year, paving the way for the first firm orders to be signed in 2017.
In 2016 the global fleet of approximately 12,000 Airbus helicopters, in service with more than 3,000 operators worldwide, reached 90 million flight hours; helping customers save lives, protect people and carry out their most demanding missions on a daily basis.
Airbus Helicopters products are in widespread service throughout Africa, with 625 rotorcraft accounting for 30% of the continent’s helicopters, with the largest fleets in South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Algeria and Nigeria. Of the total, around 70% are civil and 30% are military helicopters.
Across Africa, Airbus Helicopters products operate in numerous roles including airborne law enforcement and crime prevention, military transport, emergency rescue, environment and wildlife protection, pipeline and powerline inspection, firefighting, offshore oil & gas exploration in addition to VIP, corporate and private transport.
The regional subsidiary, Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa (AHZA), has full sales, service, overhaul and training facilities in South Africa (at its headquarters base in Midrand and a satellite operation at Cape Town International Airport). It also has a support base in Nairobi, Kenya.