Eurocopter sees civil orders fall

Eurocopter, the French-based helicopter division of EADS, said that the global economic downturn has led to a slump in civil orders for its light helicopters.

According to the group, a recovery of its commercial markets is unlikely to occur in 2010.

However, governmental orders over-compensated for the drop in commercial sales with a net total of 344 new aircraft, including 81 Super Puma/Cougar/EC225/EC725 family helicopters sold, amounting to €5.8bn (£5.04bn).

More than half of the company’s 2009 turnover was related to serial helicopters, 35 per cent derived out of support and services and 10 per cent came from development and other activities.

The company’s total order backlog at the end of 2009 amounted to 1,300 helicopters or the equivalent of €15.1bn, an increase of more than €1bn compared with the end of 2008.

Eurocopter chief executive Lutz Bertling said: ‘Not all geographic areas and market segments are equally affected by the crisis. The downturn in the corporate, tourism and EMS markets, which typically acquire smaller helicopters, has been countered by a stable oil and gas market due to new exploration activities, and by a strong military market.

‘Our decision to focus in 2009 on governmental and services orders has proven to be right and allowed us to increase our backlog by more than €1bn.’

In 2010, the group plans to implement a €200m cost-reduction programme, implement faster and simplified processes and invest in new projects such as the X4; the Aerial Armed Scout proposed to the US Army together with Lockheed Martin; and the Future Transport Helicopter.