The European Commission has approved €377m of state aid for the Airbus Helicopters X6 project to develop a next-generation Super Puma.
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules €377m of French and German support to develop the Airbus Helicopters X6 project. The Commission considers that the project will significantly contribute to research and innovation in the EU without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
The X6 is the programme to develop a successor to the Super Puma with extended range and improved fuel efficiency. The concept phase was launched in 2015. Airbus Helicopters aims to bring the future twin-engine heavylifter onto the market during the next decade.
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 loans granted over a period of eight years, most of which (€330m) will come from France.
According to the European Commission, the scope of the X6 helicopter project is such that the associated risks are high and the investments required exceed the self-financing capability of Airbus. The financial markets are also reluctant to finance such an ambitious research and development project for which a return on investment is only expected over a long period.
The Commission assessed the measures under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which allows state aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities, where such aid does not adversely affect trading conditions to an extent that is contrary to the common interest.