Taking Flight


If you're underway, in a rush or visiting remote destinations, there are times when a tender simply won't do. A helicopter takes accessibility, convenience and comfort to new heights, starting the enjoyment of the yachting experience long before you board. For the owners of the world's largest superyachts, helicopters are elegant extensions of their floating homes. Far from being an afterthought, they're often customised and built into the blueprint of a new vessel, becoming an essential feature from day one.

Owners and shipyards seeking the best turn to Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH). Launched in 2017 as a division of Airbus Group, ACH offers the largest range of helicopters in the skies, including a growing fleet of single- and twin-engine crafts designed for the unique needs of the superyacht owner. Favouring form as well as function, ACH’s helicopters feature elegant styling, penned by a special creative team occasionally in collaboration with leading designers and brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin.

“Our aircraft are always executed with the highest standards of craftsmanship, which makes each product instantly recognisable at the first glance,” says Frederic Lemos, Head of ACH. “The key differentiator for ACH is our unparalleled focus on meeting the highly specific and very demanding requirements of private and business aviation owners and operators. We created ACH with the explicit goal of taking this kind of customer through the journey of helicopter ownership from first enquiry to final disposal.”

The yachting industry has been at the forefront of the company's mind since day one. “We identified the yacht-based market as a key sector even before the creation of ACH and we’ve developed exceptional expertise in yacht operations,” Lemos says. “From the moment that design starts on a new vessel we are ready to engage with the customer in order to ensure that the final configuration is the optimal design and size to meet the owner’s objectives.”

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Among modern superyacht owners, the ACH145 is currently the most popular model installed on new builds. “It’s twin-engined and provides the single best solution in terms of internal cabin size and compact external size taking into account the restrictions of deck dimensions,” Lemos says. “We see a lot of them during the summer season onboard yachts.”

This modular aircraft is super flexible thanks to its changeable seating arrangement that can be modified to seat four to eight passengers – or removed to fit cargo. It’s suited for exploration in a broad range of destinations and climates due to its fixed landing gear, robust build and high-performance engine.

The six-passenger ACH135 is another excellent option for superyacht owners. Like the ACH145, this model has a very compact footprint which is important because the deck space reserved for helicopters can be tight. Owners requiring additional seats can opt for larger ACH160 and ACH175 models, depending on the availability of space.

“It’s so important to talk to us at an early stage in the design process so that we can advise on the appropriate helicopter and ensure that the correct helipad is incorporated,” Lemos says, adding that not all yachts are suitable for helicopter installation. “In general, 50 metres is the minimum required length for a yacht to be suitable for helicopter carriage. ACH expects an average of seven new projects each year with potential for helicopters.”


For all its models, ACH offers clients complete interior customisation. One of the design team’s greatest challenges to date was the creation of a bespoke vegan leather interior for an animal-loving client – vegan leather doesn’t bend and stretch in the same way as non-vegan alternatives, I’m told, but you’d never know looking at the finished craft.

Clients also have the option to select designs created in collaboration with world-leading brands, including prestigious car manufacturers. Two stand-out launches are the ACH145 Mercedes-Benz Style and the ACH130 Aston Martin Edition. “The former is very well suited to yacht operations while also benefitting from Mercedes-Benz’s design expertise. It has excellent potential for exploration activities but at the same time the interior is incredibly sophisticated in line with our clients’ lifestyles,” says Lemos. “With Aston Martin we incorporate their design values into the ACH130 single to produce a superb looking helicopter reflecting the agility and sports styling of the manufacturers’ cars.”

Headquartered in France but with a global footprint, ACH stays with clients long after delivery, offering support solutions wherever they are in the world they sail – another reason that the company blows competitors out of the water.



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