Airbus Corporate Helicopters Weathers Worst Of Pandemic

ACH130 Aston Martin Edition
ACH130 Aston Martin Edition
Credit: Airbus Corporate Helicopters

Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) has weathered the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic with stable sales of its single- and twin-engine models, and expects to surpass its 2020 performance this year.

“[In] the last 18 months, the private business aviation market has shown great resilience, and we [have] as well,” ACH CEO Frederic Lemos told an NBAA-BACE press conference Oct. 11.

ACH launched the Aston Martin Edition of its single-engine ACH130 at the Heli-Expo conference in Anaheim, California, in January 2020. Since then, the manufacturer has logged 10 bookings, or orders, including two orders from operators in North America. 

On Oct. 5, ACH announced the first delivery of the specially configured helicopter to entrepreneur Charles Tremblay, the owner of Junic Construction in Gatineau, Quebec. It expects to deliver a second Aston Martin edition ACH130 to a U.S. customer next year.

ACH launched an upgrade of its ACH145 light twin with a new bearingless five-blade main rotor in 2019 and in April announced the first delivery, to VIP and charter operator Advanced Flight, of New Zealand. The five-blade ACH145 completed its first landing on a yacht at the recent Monaco Yacht Show.

“The 145 was already an incredible aircraft, selling very well,” Lemos said. We decided to make it even better, with a smoother ride but also 150 kg (330 lb.) payload more.”

In 2019, ACH logged 66 orders overall, but bookings during the pandemic in 2020 slipped to 62. This year as of June, the manufacturer had already logged 43 orders ,and it expects to exceed last year’s performance by year-end. 

“Obviously, last year was challenging for a lot of us in the industry,” said Nitin Sareen, ACH head of marketing. “In 2020, we did 62 bookings. If you split them between the different types of helicopters, about 40 of them were single-engine, which is by far the largest segment of the market. But you also see with the H135 and H145 [twins], that we’ve done almost 20 bookings, which is a great success for us.” 

Sareen added: “This year, already at the end of June, we’ve achieved almost 80% of that mark. We’ll announce our official results next year for the end of [2021], but it looks like a stellar year. Basically, what the pandemic has also done has shown private business aviation customers the importance of why a helicopter can fit into their lifestyle, be it for private use or corporate use.”

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.