Airbus Helicopters bounces back in 2021
The industry logged over 400 orders
In 2021, Airbus Helicopters logged 419 gross orders (net: 414) showing solid signs of recovery from the 2020 market situation which was heavily impacted by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. (2020 – 289 gross/ 268 net orders). The increase in orders for light models, H-125 and H-130, reflects the recovery of the civil and parapublic market. The Company saw strong momentum from its home countries, with France ordering 40 H-160s (civil and military versions), eight H-225Ms, and two H-145s, Spain ordering 36 H-135s, and Germany procuring eight H-145s for the Bavarian police force. Deliveries increased from 300 in 2020 to 338 in 2021, contributing to industry's preliminary 52% share of the civil and parapublic market and confirming its position as market reference. In number of aircraft units, the firm recorded a net book to bill ratio above one.
The Company ramped up its five-bladed H-145 deliveries in 2021 as well as delivered the first five-bladed H-145 retrofit to DRF Luftrettung, a German helicopter emergency medical services operator, at the end of May. Other key deliveries the first H-225M for Singapore in March as well as the first H-225M in a naval combat configuration for Brazilian Navy, and the first NH-90 TTH for Qatar which was delivered ahead of schedule. In North America, the US Army took delivery of the first UH-72B from the Airbus Helicopters factory in Columbus, Mississippi and the Lakota fleet reached the major milestone of one million flight hours.
Order highlights for 2021 consist of 93 H-145s and 52 H-160s including the first batch of H-160Ms for the French armed forces as well as 10 H-160s for the Gendarmerie Nationale –the first law enforcement customer for the model. The European manufacturer also expanded its partnership with The Helicopter Company in Saudi Arabia, which added 20 H-145s and 6 ACH-160s to their growing fleet of Airbus helicopters. The H-225 saw 2021 kicking off to a good start with its long-standing customer, the Japan Coast Guard, ordering an additional two helicopters to its fleet in March.
Its suite of HCare offerings continue to convince customers of their value add with new and returning customers such as Air Methods who signed an additional contract in February to cover 80 EC-135s. The Company expanded its range in 2021 with HCare Classics, a custom-made set of services for its legacy fleet of approximately 2,000 in-service H-120, Dauphin, Puma and Gazelle aircraft. HDataPower is an example of Airbus Helicopters’ ongoing commitment to digitalisation and harnessing the benefits (time savings, higher fleet availability, optimised costs) that it can proffer to customers with Helionix-equipped aircraft by leveraging data generated by helicopter systems.
2021 was an essential year for innovation and product improvement at Airbus Helicopters. The H-125 performance increase received both its EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) certification enabling operators to take full advantage of the 10% power increase provided by the Arriel 2D engines. The Company also added the H-175M to its military product portfolio. The VSR700, Airbus’ Unmanned Aerial System, began its flight envelope expansion ahead of sea trials later this year.
Last year was especially instrumental to the Company’s decarbonisation roadmap. The helicopter Flightlab started flight testing new technologies, including the engine back-up system which not only aims to deliver safety improvements but is also a fundamental first step on the road to hybridisation. Airbus Helicopters also launched a SAF User Group dedicated to the rotary-wing community in an effort to accelerate the deployment of biofuels, began using sustainable aviation fuel for its training and flight tests at it main sites in France and Germany, and ended the year by flying an H-225 with one engine powered by 100% SAF. One of the key highlights came in September 2021 at the Airbus Summit when the helicopter industry unveiled CityAirbus NextGen, its new prototype designed to deliver zero emissions flight in urban environments. The fully electric vehicle for the Urban Air Mobility market is just one of the reasons Airbus Helicopters is looking to recruit 500 people in 2022.
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