European Commission approves €377m support for Airbus to develop innovative X6 helicopter

Rebecca Smith
When unveiling its plans in 2015 Airbus said the X6 will target oil and gas missions
When unveiling its plans in 2015 Airbus said the X6 will target oil and gas missions (Source: Airbus)

Airbus has secured €377m (£330m) of French and German support to develop its innovative X6 heavy helicopter model, after it was cleared by the European Commission today.

In its statement, the Commission said the development will contribute to research and innovation in the bloc, without "unduly distorting competition" in the Single Market.

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Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "The French and German support will stimulate considerable private investment in this project. The support will help bring a new generation of innovative heavy helicopters to the market, without causing undue distortions of competition."

The support will amount to a total of €377m in repayable advances granted over a period of eight years, with €330m from France and €47.25m from Germany.

For the project, Airbus will take on significant research to develop the innovative and high-tech civil heavy duty helicopter. The plan is for the twin-engine X6 to have improved fuel efficiency compared to the current crop of helicopters.

The Commission acknowledged that the scope of the helicopter project is such that "the associated risks are high and the investments required exceed the self-financing capability of Airbus".

Airbus Helicopters announced the launch of a development programme to build the X6 in 2015, with the aim of it eventually replacing the Super Puma. It will be designed to carry 19 passengers and feature fly by wire controls.

At the time, Airbus said X6 will initially target oil and gas missions, and will also be well suited to search and rescue.

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