The choice of materials, design, and the latest trends... the creation of a
VIP space in a helicopter is complex because interior fitting is governed
by strict airworthiness rules. The example of the EC225 in its VIP
configuration, which was designed for a foreign government, is a very
good case in point.
On April 1, 2009, Eurocopter delivered the second EC225 in corporate configuration to the government of an African country. The customer wanted a top of the range VIP interior and entrusted the work to Avitrade, a company that specializes in aircraft decoration and interior fitting. The EC225 was the natural choice of helicopter because the customer was looking for an extremely reliable aircraft that was capable of making long journeys with a large carrying capacity.
Reconciling Decoration and Directives
Fitting out helicopters with a VIP configuration is difficult because the government’s wishes in terms of decoration must be squared with ever stricter aeronautical requirements. Avitrade is a Belgian company that was established in 1987. It specializes in designing solutions that perfectly balance VIP requirements with airworthiness rules. To do this, Avitrade relies on interior designers and decorators, as well as technicians who know the aircraft, technical certifications and safety directives like the back of their hand: They also know that the rules must be followed to the letter.
“The helicopter is the ideal complement to the private jet for VIP and government transportation,” explains Albert Bloem, CEO of Avitrade. “When a helicopter is fitted with a VIP layout, the aircraft interior is smaller and its weight restrictions are much stricter than they are for an airplane. You therefore need to study the project closely, before making the right decisions. With the EC225, we wanted to offer the customer a very high quality product. We explained our ideas to Eurocopter, whose teams were constrained by their manufacturing lead times, but they still worked very closely with us at every step of the way. The Eurocopter people were very open minded and didn’t balk at the new ideas that we came up with. The team spirit between us was fantastic: We were able to develop the product together and create something that is truly remarkable.”
State-of-the-Art VIP Equipment
To fully satisfy the customer, Avitrade and Eurocopter looked for flightworthy equipment that could be installed in the helicopter’s cabin. The inside of the VIP EC225 therefore has an espresso machine, china crockery, a Wi-Fi connection and a printer, which can be used by passengers as they fly over Africa at speeds exceeding 250 km/h. “We want passengers to feel as comfortable as they would do in their offices. Eurocopter also wanted to install more sophisticated, flightworthy VIP equipment, and we were able to do that without any problems.” The last word goes to Albert Bloem who cannot hide his satisfaction: “What we have created is a truly first-class VIP helicopter!”