Eurocopter is hinting at the firming up of an order from Bristow for its EC175 medium-twin helicopter as the aircraft arrives in the U.S. for a debut tour.

The manufacturer has painted its demonstrator in the colors of the oil and gas operator that is now conducting a series of flight demonstrations for potential customers serving the Gulf of Mexico energy industry. The aircraft is due to make an appearance at the Heli-Expo industry show in Las Vegas on March 5-7. The aircraft appeared at Bristow’s headquarters in New Iberia, La., on Feb. 25-26 and will return to the region after Heli-Expo to conduct flight demos at PHi and Era Helicopters.

The company says the U.S. tour is the first segment of a wider tour to customers across the world.

Several officials have suggested that a Bristow order for the type will be announced at the show. The company had been the launch customer for the aircraft, when the EC175 was first unveiled at Heli-Expo 2008, but has so far failed to convert its intentions into real orders.

In December, as Eurocopter announced the first flight of the initial production-representative example, the company also revealed that certification had been pushed back nine months because of issues with the aircraft’s Helionix avionics suite.

The company also found during trials that the aircraft has a more sprightly performance than anticipated, and it was rewriting technical documentation to reflect the new levels of performance. Eurocopter said these changes were being carried out in cooperation with customers.

So far, of the 13 customers that booked slots for the aircraft at the time of launch, only three have signed contracts: Heli-Union of France, NHV of Belgium, and Russia’s UTair. NHV says it will receive its first aircraft in 2013.