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Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury, who is to become Airbus Commercial Aircraft’s president next month, is leaving the company as rotorcraft sales are anticipated to remain stable this year.
“Around 400 deliveries would be a good objective for 2018,” he said yesterday during a conference call. Last year, Airbus Helicopters delivered 409 helicopters, almost the same number as in 2016 (418). Of 2017’s deliveries, 260 units were for the civil and parapublic sectors. For rotary-wing aircraft with six seats or more, Airbus claims to have a 50 percent market share of civil and parapublic deliveries.
Gross orders stood at 350 (net orders were slightly lower, at 335), meaning Faury’s January 2017 prediction for the year ahead proved accurate both for orders and deliveries.
“I am very satisfied with the order mix, with a strong performance of heavies and super mediums,” Faury said. The Super Puma family, despite a nonexistent oil-and-gas market for heavy helicopters, had “one of its biggest years ever” thanks to military and parapublic sales. The 54 orders included 45 H225s and 10 H215s.
The super-medium H175 “remains our joker in the changing oil-and-gas environment,” Faury said, and garnered 19 orders.
In medium helicopters, “this year will be the year of the first commercial contract for the H160,” Faury said. The program, which Airbus hopes will restore its “40 percent market share” on the segment, has so far lacked clear, solid numbers illustrating customer interest.
At the end of 2017, the company’s overall backlog stood at 692 helicopters. While the level of orders and deliveries is low, Faury described the environment last year as “stable.” He said the level of deliveries was “a testimony of our resilience.”
In the emerging “air mobility” segment, 2018 will be the year of the first flight of the CityAirbus demonstrator. The electric four-seater, which features four pairs of propellers for vertical flight, is being developed at Airbus Helicopters’ site in Donauwörth, Germany.
The Racer, a compound helicopter demonstrator being built as a follow-on to the X3, is on schedule for a first flight in 2020, according to Faury.
He said he would urge his successor to “keep going on air mobility.” The new CEO, whose name is expected to be announced in the coming days, should also “explore new markets,” said Faury. He added that he or she should address key technology enablers — “autonomous flight, new architectures and electrification.”
In Faury’s view, the next CEO should also proceed with digitalization, already well under way on production lines and in services. Described as a “key pillar for the next five years,”, digitalization is expected to bring new services to customers and the company itself. It will improve fleet availability, Faury said. “The H125 and H130 light singles have a digital future and you will hear more details at Heli-Expo,” he added.