On 19 June 2017, the European Commission approved, under the EU state aid rules, French and German public funding to support the development of the innovative Airbus X6 heavy helicopter. Airbus is an aerospace company in which several European countries, including France, Germany and Spain, own a stake.
The aid granted falls within the state aid rules adopted in May 2014 to facilitate the granting of aid measures by Member States in support of research, development and innovation (R&D&I) activities. As a result of state aid in this field, companies allocate higher budgets to R&D&I and carry out research activities aimed at realising new and innovative projects.
The project of helicopter X6 will significantly contribute to research and innovation in the EU without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market. The support will amount to a total of 377 million euro in repayable advances granted over a period of eight years
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.”
In particular, the twin-engine X6 helicopter will have a higher range of action, coupled with improved fuel efficiency, as compared to the current generation of helicopters. It aims to simplify access to platforms in the high seas, and facilitate search and rescue, as well as humanitarian missions. The project is fully in line with the objectives set by the Europe 2020 flagship initiative for an Innovation Union, to create an innovation-friendly environment that makes it easier for great ideas to be turned into products and services that will bring economy growth and jobs.