On 31 October 2005, Dr. Lutz
Bertling was named president
of Eurocopter to replace Fabrice
Brégier, who has taken on new
responsibilities at Airbus. Read
our exclusive interview below.
But let’s take a look at Eurocopter current priorities. First of all, we have to satisfy our customers in terms of deliveries: the aircraft have to be sent out right on schedule and in accordance with contractual specifi-cations. That is our number one priority. The helicopter market is currently experiencing enormous growth, and helicopter manufacturers are now faced with unprecedented customer demand. We are adapting our industrial organization to meet customer needs in the shortest possible lead times.
Our second priority is to maintain high levels of investment in research and development, so that our range of helicopters continues to improve while we insure our technological advance over our competitors.
This investment is essential in order to adapt to the ever-changing needs of our civil and military customers. We must be capable of offering our customers mission capabilities that meet with their highest expectations, and which are customized to their specific needs. But our offer must be based on a standardized range of products and services.
Adaptation also means establishing strategic industrial partnerships with many countries, based on co-development and co-production programs. And last but not least, we have to continue our efforts to manage new changes taking place at Eurocopter, in accordance with the VITAL program that was recently launched. These new changes will help us to increase our efficiency and better focus on our customers.
What is your vision of the helicopter market in the years to come?
L.B.: As I said, the helicopter market is experiencing high growth in all different segments. This increased activity is the result of two different phenomena: the renewal of aging fleets coupled with a global increase in needs. Let’s take a look at the Oil & Gas segment for example: old machines are being replaced, while at the same time the sector is undergoing change. The price of oil remains high, and oil companies will be searching for new resources farther and farther from the coasts and exploring the subsoil of countries that have never seen an oil derrick. What’s more, the ‘homeland security’ concept that has been developed in the United States has had an influence elsewhere.
Countries like South Africa and China, where major sporting events like World Cup Soccer and the Olympic Games are to be held, must acquire new equipment to meet their security needs. The experts all agree: within ten years, China will have a fleet of helicopters just as large as the current fleet in the United States. Another important factor has been the natural catastrophes that have occurred in different parts of the globe. They have all proven that a cruel lack of helicopters exists for performing rescue operations. Based on these observations, we are convinced that the helicopter has a very bright future.
In your opinion, what will Eurocopter’s position be on the market five years down the road?
L. B.: Obviously, our only ambition is to be number one in each market segment for products and services and in each market that we have access to. Eurocopter is currently the world leader in civil helicopter manufacturing and is determined to remain so! We have many strengths that will help us in this endeavor. We continue to develop our range of products, with such important projects as the EC175 in cooperation with China and the KUH(1) as part of the KHP(2) program launched by South Korea.
And let’s not forget the constant progress we are making on other helicopters in our range. The UH-145, a version derived from the EC145, has made a historic entrance into the American military market, which had been off limits to us up until now. Also in the military segment, we have already sold 400 NH90s, making the machine an unparalleled commercial success. It has become the worldwide reference in its category even before entering service!
Plus, when you add in Eurocopter’s know-how in terms of partnerships and cooperative programs, and the strength of our network of subsidiaries and distributors throughout the world, you have a surefire recipe for long-term success!