Airbus Helicopters announced a slight decrease in year-over-year orders and deliveries in 2014 and anticipates a favorable book-to-bill ratio this year, the company announced on January 27. The France-based rotorcraft manufacturer handed over 471 aircraft last year and gathered 402 orders-both 5-percent drops.
CEO Guillaume Faury claimed that Airbus Helicopters delivered 44 percent of the 736 civil and parapublic helicopters shipped worldwide last year. Since the 2008 peak, Airbus Helicopters' production mix of both civil and military rotorcraft has changed drastically at both ends of the spectrum, with light singles down to 223 and heavy twins up to 101 last year.
China is still far from fulfilling its promise but ranked second in civil deliveries (29) behind the U.S. Airbus is supporting Avicopter in its effort to fly the first AC352-the counterpart of the EC175-this year. Meanwhile, the economic pain in Russia has been felt at Airbus Helicopters, with UTAir suspending its remaining orders for 14 EC175s after having received the first one last year.
Faury predicted 2015 bookings will reflect renewed interest for the just-in-service EC175 and appeared confident that the oil price collapse might hold some opportunities, as "the most profitable [offshore] fields are not necessarily the ones closest to the shore."
A senior Nextant Aerospace executive told AIN yesterday that the company likely will launch a third aircraft remanufacturing program later this year, possibly at the annual NBAA Convention in November. Company vice president Jay Heublein provided few details other than to hint that the target aircraft would likely be larger than the company's $5.15 million 400XTi, a remanufactured Beechjet 400A/Hawker 400XP.
Heublein would say only that the company has feasibility studies under way on "four or five" aircraft and is "narrowing the process and getting closer" to making a decision. He did say that larger business jets provide better margins than light jets and therefore make it easier to recapture non-recurring engineering costs over the sale of fewer aircraft. The critical mass for a heavy jet program would be a model with at least 250 to 300 aircraft already in service to justify the program investment required, Heublein noted.
He said the company considers the 400XTi and the company's G90XT, based on the King Air C90, "entry-level products" and that it will continue to focus on cabin-class business aircraft.
Hundreds of business jets carrying approximately 2,500 heads of state and business leaders descended upon Zurich Airport late last week for the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Anticipating a record number of delegates for this year's event, held Wednesday through Saturday, the local FBOs ramped up their operations.
Jet Aviation Zurich brought in additional staff from its Basel, Berlin and Dubai FBOs to handle 582 aircraft movements and 1,485 passengers in the days before and after the conference. "Our goal is to meet or exceed customer's' requirements and expectations, and when we learned that record numbers were expected this year, we drew on our FBO network for additional support," noted Monica Beusch, general manager of the company's Zurich facility and head of EMEA and Asia FBO services. The facility also reported selling nearly 235,000 gallons of jet-A and avgas during the course of the week.
Fellow Zurich service provider ExecuJet reported handling nearly 400 aircraft movements for the conference, including many long-range business jets. While the nearby military Dübendorf Airport had been used for overflow parking in the past, this year for the first time it was officially included in the planning as a receiver airfield with Swiss customs clearance and border control, as well as handling services provided by ExecuJet, which reported handling 22 aircraft there in addition to those at its Zurich facility. "The World Economic Forum is an extremely important and busy time for our Zurich FBO," said Basil Gamper, the location's manager. "We handled a record number of flights for visiting VIPs, including heads of state from Europe and other regions. In total ExecuJet sold almost 600,000 liters [158,500 gallons] of fuel at Zurich and Dübendorf combined, a company record for the event."
Beyond Zurich, several other Swiss airports handled significant volumes of business aviation traffic associated with the World Economic Forum. The Air Service Basel FBO at EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg reported a high volume of midsize and large-cabin business jets. Basel is approximately 145 miles from Davos.
AOPA and NBAA filed a "friend of the court" brief on Thursday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District, outlining the associations' concerns about the city of Santa Monica's efforts to restrict or close Southern California's Santa Monica Airport.
The timing for their filing is a result of the FAA's January 15 "brief for appellees," which resulted from the city's October 2013 lawsuit. In that lawsuit, the city claimed that it didn't realize that a 1948 agreement with the government to operate the airport in perpetuity still applied, following another agreement it made with the FAA in 1984. The city lost that case but appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court, hence the recent filings.
In 1948, Santa Monica regained control of the airport, now encompassing 227 acres, under a Surplus Property Act (SPA) agreement. According to AOPA, "The city regained control of the airport with the understanding that the airport would operate in perpetuity." In their brief, the associations argued that the city may try to restrict operations or even close the airport after its obligations under the most recent grant assurance end, contradicting "both the overt purposes of the Surplus Property Act and the transfers made pursuant to that law."