Heli-Expo launches with huge order for Airbus

Updated: 2015-09-09 20:57

By Wang Wen(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Airbus Helicopters received orders for more than 110 rotorcraft from three Chinese clients at the China Heli-Expo launched in Tianjin on Wednesday.

CM International Financial Leasing Corp Ltd (CMIFL), a subsidiary of China Minsheng Investment, signed an agreement to acquire 100 Ecureuil-series rotorcraft over five years with the initial 10 units to be delivered next year.

With the orders, CMIFL will become the first rotorcraft leasing company in China and plans to offer the light single-engine helicopters to operators together with financing solutions, according to the leasing company.

Hong Kong-based Government Flying Services (GFS) also ordered seven H175s, becoming the world's initial customer for the new-generation super-medium sized rotorcraft with a public services configuration.

The first batch of three will be delivered to GFS by the end of 2017 and the other four will be delivered in 2018.

The H175s can undertake missions including search and rescue, emergency medical services, fire fighting, law enforcement and land or maritime border security patrols.

Airbus Helicopters, a division of Airbus Group, also signed an agreement with HEMS999, an air ambulance operator under the MIT Group based in Shandong province for seven H130 light helicopters.

The order will be delivered starting towards the end of 2015 and HEMS999 will provide rotorcraft for emergency medical services and rescues from road and highway accidents across Shandong province.

There are currently more than 190 Airbus civil helicopters flying in China, accounting for almost 40 percent of the market, according to Airbus.

China's civil helicopter market has enjoyed rapid growth with Airbus Helicopters securing a huge part of the market.

Statistics from the Civil Aviation Administration of China show that the number of civil helicopters in the country increased from 387 in 2013 to 524 in 2014, a 37.5 percent rise.

"The number of Chinese civil helicopters has had fast growth, although the quantity is still small," said Yin Shijun, director of CAAC's Airworthiness Certification Division.

Shandong is one of the most economically vibrant regions in China and is a big province with massive highways and a constantly increasing car population, said Gai Fang, president of the MIT Group.

"We are convinced that the availability of air ambulance services will be greatly appreciated," Gai said.

Wang Rong, CMIFL chairman and president, said the relaxation of low-altitude airspace regulations in China signals exciting times ahead as helicopters are needed to accelerate infrastructural development and provide for society's demands including medical airlift services and passenger transport.