May 24, 2012
THE Philippine economy must be performing well, gauging by the decision of Eurocopter Philippines and France’s Dassault Falcon to jointly sell the seven-seater helicopter and the eight-seater Falcon jet as complimentary package for the country’s top 500 corporations, including chairmen and chief executive officers of multinational companies and conglomerates.
There is a family of Falcons to choose from—six distinct aircraft to suit the company’s budget—while the helicopter needs no further introduction, having been introduced in the Philippine market since 1970.
Jussi Hoikka, commercial director of Eurocopter Philippines, said the company has locally sold 60 Eurocopters, at $3 million to $3.2 million per unit, representing a 60-percent share of the market.
Its most exclusive feature is the Fenestron tail rotor, which is enclosed and not exposed like most helicopters. This prevents personnel or passengers from being cut accidentally when the rotor is turning.
The Eurocopter T3 is also equipped with an “active vibration control system,” vibrations being a natural curse of all helicopters owing to its design. This helicopter, however, senses the vibrations and a damper removes this bone rattling sensation, lessening the noise to give passengers comfortable ride, devoid of nausea.
The Falcon costs $30 million, excluding the 12-percent to 25-percent tax. So far, only one has been sold locally, compared to the 25 percent to 30 percent that Chinese billionaires had gobbled up so far.
However, as Hoikka pointed out, they aim to sell about six to 10 Falcons for the next two years, and in five years, be the leading executive jet supplier in the country.
He said a busy executive can jet to any point in the Philippines, and still afford to make it on time to any remote locations by hopping to a waiting Eurocopter, which would be the favorite chariot of choice by mining executives, oil and gas barons and politicians hot on campaign trails.
The helicopter can be also be used for emergency medical evacuation and to enter the remotest jungle or reach any isolated islands.
Eurocopter Philippines has a 95-percent Filipino staff, mostly industry professionals, serving customers that include the Coast Guard, the Navy, the National Police, charter operators, corporate operators and other private owners.
The Falcon 2000LX, the latest in the lineup, has enough headroom for tall persons, and offers 5-percent additional range, which would be 4,500 nautical miles, over the 2000EX EASy model.
It can land and takeoff on 1,500 meters of runway.
At the cockpit, cutting-edge technology includes two onboard computers, a fully digitalized cockpit, a trackball like in a computer game, where the pilot places the cursor in on a map, and pinpoints the runway locations anywhere in the world. The map could be enlarged to see the airport’s layout and all information needed for navigation.
Instantly, the pilot is provided with any particular runway’s length, configuration, navigational aids, frequencies to tune in and all related data.
Not many airplanes, even commercial ones, have this computerized cockpit.
Capt. Frederick Lascourreges, the check-pilot, shows how, by the turn of the trackball, he can avail of any information at his fingertips, having done away with the “Flying Kit Bag” a bulky black leather bag that used to contain all the maps and the pilot’s survival kit.