While Airbus is best known for its commercial aircraft offerings, the European firm has grown immensely over the decades, expanding into other areas of aviation. Among other products, Airbus has its own helicopter division, as well as an impressive portfolio of air vehicles designed for the defense industry. In this article, we’ll focus on the former, which includes both civil and military helicopters.
According to Airbus, its helicopters are in service across more than 150 countries worldwide. These rotary wing aircraft perform “nearly every type of vertical flight task imaginable” and include service in the civil, government, military, law enforcement, and ‘parapublic’ realms.
Through mergers and acquisitions
The first thing that you ‘need to know’ is that Airbus’ helicopter division wasn’t built from the ground up. Rather, this division comes through a series of mergers and groupings.
While there is a great deal of history that exists even before the 1990s, one key part of Airbus’ present-day helicopter division began on January 1st, 1992. On this day, the helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale (France) and MBB (Germany) merged to form the Eurocopter group.
1992 was a big year for this newly formed group as it also grew to include Aerospatiale Helicopter Australia (to become Eurocopter International Pacific, and then Australian Aerospace in 2002) and American Eurocopter (a result of a merger between the Aerospatiale Helicopter Corporation and the MBB Helicopter Corporation.)
1992 also saw the founding of Eurocopter Service Japan (which was later renamed Eurocopter Japan in 2005).
In 2000, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) would be formed. This newly formed legal entity would include 100% of Eurocopter and 80% of Airbus Industrie.
In 2014, EADS would be renamed the Airbus Group with its Eurocopter division renamed “Airbus Helicopters.” The man who confirmed the branding change at the time was Eurocopter CEO Guillaume Faury, who is now the CEO of the Airbus Group.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
The sub-divisions of Airbus Helicopters
Airbus Helicopters divides into four sub-divisions:
- ACH (Airbus Corporate Helicopters)
- and Pre-Owned
Of course, ACH is an adaptation of its civil helicopters, just as Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) adapts commercial Airbus jets for private use. Largely self-explanatory, the company’s pre-owned division manages the re-sale and leasing of used helicopters.
Military and civilian rotorcraft
When it comes to civilian helicopters, Airbus has 10 different models, which divide into five categories (intermediate single, light twin, medium, super medium, and heavy). At the light, single-engine end, the H125 and H130 are used for roles such as firefighting, law enforcement, passenger transport, sightseeing, and VIP duties, as well as medical airlift and surveillance missions.
At the heavy end are the H215 and H225. These machines are also used for firefighting, passenger transport, and law enforcement. However, their increased size and power allow for larger payloads and more passengers with the ability to travel longer distances.
In operation with over 100 armed forces worldwide, Airbus’ military helicopters are also offered in a wide range of sizes and capabilities, used in everything from troop transport to surveillance, reconnaissance, and attack.
At the end of the day, Airbus Helicopters is just one part of the much, much larger Airbus Group. But if you are ever lucky enough to take an aerial tour of a city by helicopter, or unlucky enough to require a search and rescue service, you might just be carried away by an Airbus helicopter!
Have you ever flown on an Airbus helicopter? Let us know by leaving a comment.