American Eurocopter is well positioned for the U.S. helicopter sectorâ€™s recovery â€“benefitting from its continued civil market leadership position, and ready to build on the companyâ€™s capabilities in engineering, certification and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul).
Speaking during the opening day press briefing at Heli-Expo 2011 in Orlando, Florida, American Eurocopter President & CEO Marc Paganini said there were initial signs of a pickup in business activity during the second half of 2010, which continued in the opening months of 2011.
â€œThis is a robust market, and we anticipate a slow recovery beginning this year,â€ he explained.Â â€œSubsequently, we expect it to be coming back to the levels of 2006-2008 â€“ which were very active years.â€
Despite the current depressed market situation, American Eurocopter was able to keep its U.S. civil market leadership in 2010, with more than a 60 percent share overall.Â As importantly, the company was at the top position in five out of the six sectors: tour operations, law enforcement, emergency medical services (EMS), corporate, and utility â€“ with a tie in the offshore market as the sixth sector.
â€œWe weathered the downturn without any reduction to our full-time staff, which will allow us to make a quick ramp-up when the recovery comes,â€ Paganini added.Â â€œIn addition, we are becoming a full provider of customer support for Eurocopter helicopters in the United States.Â This includes MRO capabilities for nearly all Eurocopter types flying in the U.S., along with American Eurocopterâ€™s investment in the 24-hour Customer Service and Fleet Operations Center, which is working very well.â€
American Eurocopterâ€™s new engineering organization already has demonstrated its abilities to carry out modifications, upgrades and certifications â€“ marking three major achievements in 2010.Â Â One of these was the issuance of Supplemental Type Certificates for the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) on EC135s and EC145s, which improves the accessibility to landing sites for these helicopters during inclement weather operations in instrument flight conditions.
The other two 2010 engineering achievements were American Eurocopterâ€™s development of the UH-72A Lakota version equipped for operation by U.S. Army National Guardâ€™s Security and Support (S&S) Battalions; and its prototyping work for the Armed Aerial Scout helicopter â€“ which is being proposed to the U.S. Army as a follow-on to the highly successful UH-72A.
American Eurocopter also is continuing the emphasis on providing expanded training services for enhanced flight safety of its customers â€“ a priority that is reflected across Eurocopterâ€™s worldwide operations.Â Â This includes the AS350 Full Flight Simulator (FFS) at American Eurocopterâ€™s Grand Prairie, Texas headquarters, which has full functionality for mission training.Â Paganini said several key customers already have signed up for training with this simulator, and a further build-up of the business is expected in 2011.
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