AeroVironment, Eurocopter evaluating joint opportunities

Unmanned aircraft systems leader AeroVironment and helicopter maker Eurocopter said today that they have signed a cooperative agreement to explore potential joint military and commercial business opportunities. The announcement occurred at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington.

The majority of AeroVironment’s UAS are fixed-wing vehicles, though it does produce the Shrike VTOL quadcopter. The company said the agreement opens up the possibility of expanding into new markets.

“The combination of AeroVironment’s market leading unmanned technology and unique knowledge with Eurocopter’s world-class helicopter and systems expertise makes a formidable team,” Roy Minson, general manager of AeroVironment’s UAS segment, said in a statement. “This cooperative agreement creates the opportunity for both companies to explore expanding into new markets and developing new capabilities to meet future customer needs.”

For its part, Eurocopter is looking to become more active in unmanned systems. Earlier this year, the company demonstrated an optionally piloted EC145 helicopter.

“AeroVironment’s extensive operational UAS experience in delivering to end-users reliable solutions working effectively in harsh operating environments makes us uniquely positioned to understand customers’ requirements and to determine future market trends,” Clive Schley, a senior VP at Eurocopter, said in a statement. “This cooperation will be particularly valuable as Eurocopter defines its unmanned product strategy, building on the success of our first unmanned flights with the EC145 helicopter this year.”

It will be interesting to see what comes from the collaboration of the two companies, which hold impressive shares of their respective markets. AeroVironment says it has delivered more than 20,000 new and replacement small unmanned air vehicles to customers since 1987, while Eurocopter reports more than 11,780 rotorcraft currently in service across 148 countries.

[ photo courtesy of Eurocopter ]

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