31 May: The maiden flight of the fourth prototype of the NH90 (PT4) successfully takes place at Eurocopter Deutschland's test facility in Ottobrunn near Munich. The NH90 Programme, which represents a landmark programme for Europe's aeronautics industry, takes another important step forward. The trial starts at 4:33 p.m. and lasts 1 hour and 5 minutes. The helicopter attains 140 kts maximum speed and 5,000 ft altitude. The NH90 PT4 is flown by experimental test pilots, Herbert Graser and Andrew Warner. The flight test engineer is Denis Hamel. The PT4 is representative of the tactical transport version (TTH) of the NH90 and features, apart from the standard NH90 full glass cockpit, fly-by-wire controls with automatic flight control, the dual bus core avionic system and the dedicated mission system. This includes forward-looking infrared, helmet mounted sight and display, digital map generator, weather radar, electronic warfare system, tactical control and tactical communication system.
11 June: The Aerospatiale Matra group is founded.
12 June: The EC145, successor to the BK117, conducts its maiden flight. The EC145 offers an increased maximum takeoff weight and payload capacity as well as a modern cockpit identical to that of the EC135.
17 June: Eurocopter delivers the 500th helicopter in the Super Puma/Cougar family to Bristow Helicopters. This helicopter, with serial No. 2500, is an AS332 L2 Super Puma; it will be operated by Norsk, a subsidiary of Bristow, for offshore missions from Sola Airport in Norway. The helicopter is fitted with an option that is fast becoming part of the standard equipment, EUROARMS or Eurocopter Aircraft Recording & Monitoring
18 June: In the presence of Jean-Yves Helmer, Head of the French Armament Agency, DGA, and Dr. Hans-Heinrich Weise, National German Deputy Armament Director, the President of the BWB (Federal German Agency for Military Technology and Procurement), Detlev Petry, signs the production contract for the Franco-German combat and support helicopter, the Tiger. The contract signals clearance for Tiger production. An initial batch of 160 helicopters, 80 for Germany and 80 for France, will be procured. The German Army's total requirement of 212 and the French Army's requirement of a total of 215 Tiger helicopters remains unchanged. Production and final assembly of the machines will be at the Eurocopter plants in Donauwörth (Germany) and Marignane (France). Cost and work shares are divided between the two partner countries on a 50:50 basis.
24 June: The EC130 conducts its maiden flight. This new member of the Ecureuil/AStar family offers more cabin space, extensive visibility and a reduced sound level that meets the Grand Canyon standards required by the American National Parks services.
18 August: MIL, Kazan Helicopters and Eurocopter, the three companies that make up EUROMIL, a company incorporated under Russian law, sign a contract in Moscow for the construction of a feasibility demonstrator for the MI 38 heavy twin in the 15 tonne class. Pratt & Whitney Canada will supply the PWC 127 engines. MIL will handle the general design, drawings, component testing and flight testing. Kazan Helicopters will be responsible for the manufacture of the fuselage and blades and for final assembly. Eurocopter will be in charge of the design of the cockpit, avionics, equipment and fittings of the different versions.
9 September: The French Air Force receives its first "RESCO" Cougar MK2 from Eurocopter. The Air Force has already been able to conduct an intensive evaluation of this helicopter in July and August 1999, when more than 100 flight hours were logged. Moreover, the Air Force product team has closely participated in the definition of the RESCO Cougar. This helicopter is the first of the 4 Cougars in the current procurement programme (1997-2002); the 3 other deliveries will be spaced out through 2003. Total requirements are for an estimated 14 helicopters.
2 December: The German aviation authority, LBA (Luftfahrtbundesamt) has granted single-pilot and dual-pilot IFR (instrument flight rules) certification featuring AFCS (automatic flight control system) and the “Avionique Nouvelle" cockpit configuration for the EC135. The certification applies to EC135s with either the Turbomeca Arrius 2B or Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B engines.
14 December: The 100th AS350 B3 Ecureuil single engine helicopter manufactured by Eurocopter and intended for a Japanese operator has been handed over to their distributor, Kawasho. The AS350 B3 includes a number of improvements: engine control with a twist grip on the pilot collective lever, main gear box upgrade to 500 kW, and twin engine Ecureuil tail rotor. Amongst the latest innovations recently certified and soon available are: transfer of auxiliary rotor brake and fuel shut-off controls to the overhead panel to free up floor space, and central instrument panel with built-in lighting and 3" instruments.
8 June: During an official ceremony at ILA, an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) covering a global intention of acquiring 595 helicopters and a global commitment for the industrialisation and the production of 366 NH90 helicopters is signed by Jean-Yves Helmer, Délégué Général pour l'Armement (France), State Secretary Dr. Walther Stützle (Germany), Onorevole Dott, Domenico Minniti, Sottosegretario alla Difesa (Italy) and Dr. Jan Fledderus, Directeur Generaal Materieel (The Netherlands).
8 September: Eurocopter changes its legal form from a Joint Stock Company (SA) to a Simplified Stock Company (SAS). Jean-François Bigay is named Chairman of Eurocopter SAS.
This operation is made possible by the creation of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Compagny (EADS) which resulted from the merger of the two shareholders, Aerospatiale Matra (France) and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Germany), and the Spanish company CASA on 10 July 2000.
October: In-flight refuelling tests are successfully completed with a combat search and rescue Cougar. The refuelling procedure starts with the helicopter flying in formation in the wake of the tanker airplane. After hook-up by means of a refuelling boom connected to the refuelling pod located on the airplane wing, the helicopter takes up a position slightly to the side and higher, and the fuel transfer operation starts.
The first tests involve partial refuelling with 500 and 1,000 pounds of fuel, then a full refuelling operation is completed during which 5,500 pounds of fuel are transferred in less than 15 minutes. The tests are conducted from the left wing and then from the right wing of the tanker airplane, changing the configurations of the helicopter until the maximum operational configuration has been tested (maximum all up weight carrying all the external stores).
30 November: The new MK2+ version of the medium-lift (11-tonne category) twin engine EC725 Cougar / Super Puma helicopter completes its maiden flight from the Eurocopter plant in Marignane. The Cougar / Super Puma MK2+ will continue to use the Spheriflex main and tail rotor heads, whose technology and performance have been demonstrated and which also offer lower maintenance costs. The five main rotor blades of the Cougar / Super Puma MK2+ benefit from a state-of-the-art airfoil design. They have a composite spar with parabolic blade tips with an anhedral profile. This five-blade configuration ensures a particularly low vibration level for the helicopter. The main rotor system has a diameter of 16.2 metres.
15 January: The new EC725 helicopter is presented to the French Air Force Chief of Staff. This new version will be able to carry a much higher military payload, and will also have an increased civil range of action compared to the MK2 version of the Cougar / Super Puma.
Distinguishing the EC725/EC225 from the MK2 version are an entirely new main rotor, a reinforced main gearbox, new engines, and a new system of integrated displays and avionics.
11 February: Eurocopter delivers the 3,000th aircraft in the Ecureuil / Squirrel / AStar / TwinStar family. It's an EC130 B4 for Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. With the EC130 B4, Eurocopter introduces a brand new product to the market. The EC130 B4 has 23% more cabin space than the other Ecureuil / Squirrel / AStar versions. It can accommodate seven comfortable seats, or eight seats in medium-density configuration. An additional strong point is its extraordinary cabin visibility thanks to its large canopy surface. Shared with the AS350 B3, its Starflex-type main rotor, main gearbox and engine (the proven Turbomeca Arriel 2B with a maximum takeoff power of 847 shp) ensure the helicopter's high level of performance.
21 June: Eurocopter Romania, based in Brasov, is created as a subsidiary owned by Eurocopter (51%) and Industria Aeronautica Româna (49%).
10 August: The Tiger is selected by the Australian Minister of Defence in the frame of the AIR 87 project.
21 December: The Eurocopter Tiger ARH contract is awarded in Australia. From December 2004, Eurocopter International Pacific will deliver 22 Tiger ARHs. The Tiger ARHs are expected to be assembled in Queensland at Australian Aerospace Pty Limited, the recently acquired subsidiary of EADS in Australia.