Bringing together a long history of excellence from some of Europe’s leading rotorcraft manufacturers, the Eurocopter Group (now the helicopter division of Airbus) was formed from the 1992 merger between the helicopter divisions of Germany’s Deutsche Aerospace and France’s Aerospatiale, with Spain’s CASA joining the company following the creation of EADS in 2000.
Here's a look at the pioneers who paved the way for Airbus' helicopter division, starting with Talleres Loring in 1923.
1923: Created in 1923 by Jorge Loring, this aviation company first produced autogyros. Then, under the name of Aeronautica Industrial S.A., the company began manufacturing fixed wing aircraft, gradually moving into helicopter activities in the 1960s. In 1995, the company was taken over by CASA.
In 1922, the Spanish engineer Juan de La Cierva entered the final development stage of an autogyro: an airplane whose wings were replaced by a free-spinning rotor, entirely driven by the speed of the forward propeller. Landing of an autogyro occurred by shutting down the engine and performing an autorotation.
The autogyro made its maiden flight on 9 January 1923 with Lieutenant Gomez Spencer at the controls. At the time, Cierva was working with the company Talleres Loring, which became Aeronautica Industrial S.A. (AISA) in 1934. AISA later joined CASA in 1995.
Although the autogyro was not a helicopter in the proper sense of the term, Cierva's inventions did have an impact on the future of this type of aircraft. In particular, the rotor head principle became a model for future helicopter rotors with more than two blades. Later, Cierva created his own company in Great Britain and sold licenses to American or European companies such as Lioré et Olivier or Focke-Wulf.