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How Helicopters Can Aid Urban Mobility, Emergency Transport

Guillaume Leprince - Airbus Helicopters Mexico
Managing Director Mexico


Reneé Lerma By Reneé Lerma | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 11/09/2023 - 12:08

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Q: What are your goals for Airbus Helicopters in Mexico?

A: Airbus Helicopters has been present in Mexico for more than 50 years, when the first Alouette helicopter was delivered to the country in 1964. It now has over 500 employees working in two facilities in the country. My goal is to ensure the sustainability of Airbus Helicopters in Mexico by focusing on developing and introducing upgrades and new products. We also aim to increase the use of helicopters in the country, particularly for activities that support the population, such as ambulance services, which are more established in the European Union but have potential for growth in Mexico.

Q: What benefits can helicopters bring to Mexican citizens and companies? 

A: Many customers are using helicopters on an on-demand basis. When there is an accident or an emergency, people think of a helicopter for rescue. But there is no system in place and no organization to coordinate and deploy helicopters effectively. Such organizations exist in the United States, Canada and Germany, for example. We aim to bring that knowledge to Mexico by showcasing the benefits of having such systems in place. The government is also willing to support such systems.

Q: Who are the main stakeholders in the helicopter market and what are the main reasons for adopting them?

A: State governments, which are usually closest to the population and manage the largest issues involving accidents and natural disasters, would greatly benefit from using helicopters. We also need a network of operators to support emergency medical services (EMS).

Both public and private ownership models can benefit the population. The government may have its own fleet, pilots, and medics, but they can also subcontract these services. It all depends on the resources available and the philosophy of the government. In the United States, for example, most helicopters are privately operated so governments hire private organizations. Meanwhile, Japan uses a mix of private and government helicopters to handle disaster evacuation. 

Q: How have Airbus Helicopters’ manufacturing operations evolved in the past few years?

A: We started manufacturing aircraft emergency doors in Queretaro 10 years ago and later expanded to manufacturing helicopter subcomponents. We have over 350 employees and aim to add 200 more within the next two years. We have a good partnership with the government of Queretaro and plan to invest in our plant by adding new equipment to address our significant aircraft  backlog.

Q: What is the scope of Airbus Helicopters operations in Mexico?

A: We develop, sell, and provide maintenance as soon as helicopters are in service. Our support includes the sale of spare parts, technical support, and full support. We aim to be close to our customers for quick repairs and to reduce downtime.

There are 160 Airbus helicopters flying in Mexico, but our facilities in the country support maintenance works for 390 helicopters; the other 230 are based in Central America, North of South America, and the Caribbean. 

Q: What R&D areas are poised to shape the helicopter market in the coming years? 

A: The industry is significantly focusing on R&D as it aims to reduce the environmental impact from our products. The main innovation in the helicopter market are electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. We are engaging in eVTOL research in the European Union and North America, and we aim to eventually introduce these vehicles in Mexico. These vehicles could be first deployed as passenger transport, while developers in the United States are exploring its use for cargo transportation. Some countries in the European Union are already testing them as passenger transport, but this application depends on getting a green light from regulators. 

eVTOL vehicles could be a great solution for Mexican cities due to their dense populations. They could also be used in remote areas as an alternative to roads and railways.

Q: What are Airbus Helicopters priorities in Mexico for the coming years?

A: We are prioritizing strategies that allow us to keep up with the fast growth in demand; we need to secure all resources to grow efficiently, such as human resources. We are collaborating with the government of Queretaro to put in place the resources, talent, and production capabilities to sustain our expected growth.

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