Military business balances civil downturn at Eurocopter

At its New Year press conference, Eurocopter said that a sharp order decline in the civil market for light helicopters was compensated by governmental orders, leading to the second-best result of order intakes in the company´s history.

Deliveries remained stable with 558 new civil and military helicopters delivered in 2009 and almost matching the peak level of 2008. This figure reinforces Eurocopter’s position as a major branded business division within EADS, accounting for a consolidated turnover of 4.6 billion Euros.

Order bookings suffered a decline in terms of units sold, but not in value. Around 460 orders were taken, but after a string of cancellations the net total was 344, including 81 Super Puma/Cougar/EC225/EC725 family helicopters. Also, 8 units of EC120 Colibri, 103 units of the AS350/355 Ecureuil/Fennec/EC130 family, 58 units of EC135, 63 units of EC145 (including 51 UH-72A Lakota), 9 units of the Dauphin/Panther/EC155 family and 22 NH90 were sold.

Order intake amounted to 5.8 billion Euros. The company’s total order backlog at the end of 2009 amounted to a robust 1,300 helicopters or the equivalent of 15.1 billion Euros, an increase of more than 1 billion Euros compared to the end of 2008.

While governmental markets remain stable despite of budget constraints, a full recovery of the commercial markets in 2010 is not evident. The lower order intake for light helicopters in 2009 will lead to lower production rates in 2010, while military helicopter rates will increase, a situation Eurocopter should be able to manage with its built-in flexibility.

55 percent of the company’s turnover achieved in 2009 was related to serial helicopters (equalling 2.5 billion Euros), 35 percent (1.6 billion Euros) derived out of support and services, whereas 10 percent (0.5 billion Euros) were realized from development and other activities.

Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling stated, “Our global industrial footprint and our comprehensive, innovative product and services portfolio have proven to be an asset in this difficult economic period. 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 1 billion Euros. While the United States and Eastern Europe, for instance, have been heavily affected by the crisis, Latin America, Asia and Western Europe kept up relatively well. In 2009, we have continued to expand our industrial presence in the UK, Japan, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand, while at the same time investing more resources into Research & Development and new products. We will beready for future market requirements when the economy recovers.”

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