The first helicopter cycle
Although I did not make it to the Paris Airshow, I did visit Eurocopter UK a few weeks ago. It is one of Eurocopter’s design centres of excellence and where they customise helicopters for British and Irish customers (it has the largest fleet in Europe).
Based at London Oxford Airport, it is an impressive facility and worth a visit if you are near Oxford (which is very close) or London (which is over 60 miles away, despite the airport’s name.)
Markus Steinke, CEO of Eurocopter UK, also made a fantastic point about this being the most exciting period in the history of helicopters. It is the end of the first generation of helicopters.
Although the first helicopter flight was in 1936, he argues that military helicopters only came into their own during the Vietnam War in the 1960s – 50 years ago. Commercial helicopters did not really become popular until 1970s and 1980s.
As helicopters are assets with 30-40 year lives, we are only now getting to the point where the first generation of helicopters are reaching the end of their lives. The industry has never had had to retire large numbers of rotary assets before.
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