Development of IFR capabilities has enhanced aircraft's appeal to operators
Airbus Helicopters Inc. announced Tuesday that Metro Aviation Inc. had ordered an unprecedented 25 EC145e helicopters that it will place into service providing air medical transport and other aerial services. It is one of the larger commercial helicopter orders ever booked by the U.S. based company.
Metro was the first customer in the world for the lighter weight and lower cost version of the EC145 when it was launched by Airbus Helicopters in 2015, placing an initial order for six aircraft. The helicopter was launched initially only for Visual Flight Rules (VFR) use and Metro put it to work in air medical transport and utility markets.
Since that time Metro, working with Genesis Aerosystems has developed and received Federal Aviation Administration Supplemental Type Certificates for a VFR electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and an autopilot and stability augmentation system for the EC145e. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) certification is expected this year.
"This order is the result of the years our company has invested in building and nurturing a great business relationship with the leadership of Metro Aviation and providing them with world-class aircraft and customer support," said Christopher Emerson, President of Airbus Helicopters Inc. "We look forward to working closely with Metro as they expand their business."
Metro has identified a sizeable, untapped market for the EC145e helicopter. "The versatility and price point made it an attractive addition to a large number of rotary wing fleets, and we have put seven in service since committing to our first purchase in 2015," said Metro Aviation President Mike Stanberry. "The EC145e model has proven to be a workhouse across various mission profiles, and we are excited about putting these new aircraft into service within our family of customers."
Having developed STCs for the EFIS and autopilot systems, Metro has found significant interest for the lower cost EC145e from a diverse group of customers, including air medical, law enforcement, utility and other missions.
Airbus Helicopters will produce the EC145e at its final assembly plant in Columbus, Miss. where it also produces the UH-72A Lakota for the U.S. Army and the H125 commercial helicopter for the North American market. Metro will customize the aircraft for individual customers at its completion center in Shreveport, La.