Ro­tary ups and downs

Pilot - - Pilot Notes -

The Va­hana self-flown, all elec­tric VTOL air­craft takes to the air for its maiden flight but the Air­bus X6 con­cept is put on hold

Air­bus Heli­copters is hold­ing back launch of its X6 heavy heli­copter pro­gramme due to ‘con­tin­ued mar­ket un­cer­tainty and the in­abil­ity of sup­pli­ers to de­liver dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies’ at present. In 2015 the com­pany be­gan a con­cept study for the X6, which is in­tended to re­place the cur­rent 11-tonne-class H225 Su­per Puma, and fore­cast ser­vice en­try in 2022-2023. But in Jan­u­ary, out­go­ing Air­bus Heli­copters Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Guil­laume Faury said that, since the study phase be­gan, the off­shore oil and gas mar­ket has col­lapsed, and while mil­i­tary and para­pub­lic mar­kets for the H225 have stayed strong, there is con­sid­er­able fu­ture un­cer­tainty.

“We have seen an evo­lu­tion in the struc­ture of the mar­ket and we need to take that into ac­count,” Faury said. “We have been un­able to de­velop a solid and bal­anced busi­ness case for the pro­gramme… [and] con­cept stud­ies have shown a lack of ma­tu­rity from the sup­ply chain to de­liver dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies as en­vis­aged. Un­til we find those ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tions and mar­ket cer­tainty, we will not launch a fully-fledged pro­gramme. It is not gone but it is likely to be­come some­thing quite dif­fer­ent to what we launched… More time and ma­tu­rity is re­quired”.

Last year the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion ap­proved French and Ger­man launch aid to­talling 377m Euros which Faury says has yet to be al­lo­cated. If Air­bus does launch the X6, that fund­ing could be used as planned, al­though if sig­nif­i­cant changes to the de­sign were made “we would have to look again at those state in­vest­ments.”

Air­bus Heli­copters X6 Con­cept

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