French fashion house Hermès has teamed up with manufacturers Eurocopter to create a luxury helicopter.
The interior has been covered in fabrics and leather to minimise noise and vibration, including Toile H, a material used for Hermès travel accessories since the 1920’s.
Photographs by Vincent Lappartient.
The following information is from Hermès:
Hermès and Eurocopter fuse style technology in landmark design partnership
Eurocopter and Hermès lift the veil on a singular experiment in collaborative engineering and design. Introducing ‘l’Hélicoptère par Hermès’. Exclusively at the 2007 edition of NBAA.
Two companies, each leaders in vividly contrasting disciplines, have set out to demonstrate that the helicopter can transcend its traditional role. Drawing on a unique blend of talents and skills, ‘l’Hélicoptère par Hermès’ is rooted in a straightforward concept: rise above narrow issues of style versus engineering, and restore the passenger to a position of pre-eminence.
The baseline for Hermès and Eurocopter was a reappraisal of the helicopter’s potential as a form of personal transportation, from an uncompromisingly user-centric point of view. With a determination to address even the most challenging design issues, ‘l’Hélicoptère par Hermès’ represents a new approach to the business aviation marketplace, and a unique opportunity for the partners to expand their activities into new territories.
“Rotary aircraft offer the crucial missing link in end-to-end transportation scenarii. It’s the ideal ‘first mile, last mile’ solution for getting between mid-town and the airport,” explains Eurocopter Senior Executive Vice President Philippe Harache. “Helicopters, given their flexibility, are a perfect complement to business jets. While growth in business aviation is robust—with promising upside potential in both the U.S. and other key markets—it is a segment that also places an extremely high premium on quality of design. Given its knowledge, background and expertise in addressing such demanding audiences, the House of Hermès represented the indispensable partner required to bring the project to maturity.”
Adds François Taverne, Chairman Hermès Gainier: “This is a genuine collaboration in industrial design and one that is unusual given our respective areas of expertise. By working so closely together, and combining the talent of Eurocopter’s engineers with that of our designer, Gabriele Pezzini, and our skilled craftsmen, both companies have taken a major step forward in improving the experience of travel by helicopter”.
The EC 135, Eurocopter’s best-selling light multimission, twinengined helicopter, was selected by the new combined team for its maiden effort. Combining a spacious cabin, ample storage compartment, unobstructed flat floors, room for four passengers and pilot, and lateral sliding doors, the EC135 provided an ideal template for the Hermès designer and craftsmen. Equally important was the aircraft’s unusually low noise signature, allowing it to operate both day and night in urban environments.
To date, over 700 examples of the EC135 have been sold, garnering praise from customers around the world who work in business aviation and other applications as varied as medevac, offshore, and public service missions.
Hermès’ distinctive signature is apparent across the aircraft’s design treatment. A minimalist, yet striking exterior paint scheme immediately sets the tone. Cognoscenti will notice a complete re-design of the helicopter’s landing gear, efficiently and elegantly easing access to the aircraft—just one of many important modifications Hermès proposed to Eurocopter.
Sliding doors open to reveal an interior configuration that is sober, light-filled and unexpectedly spacious. The cabin, completely redesigned by Hermès to maximise available space, reflects the quality and finesse of Hermès’ craftsmen, offering passengers a pleasing blend of functionality, refinement and comfort. Surfaces from floor to ceiling have been covered in ‘Toile H’, a signature Hermès canvas used to manufacture the firm’s travelware since the nineteen-twenties. Seats and banquette are handcrafted for exceptional comfort, and upholstered in calf leathers, naturally grained and highly resistant.
Addressing a commonly expressed wish, Hermès artisans have optimized the use of fabrics and leathers to soften ambient noise and vibration. Consoles, drawers and cabinets have been recessed or placed entirely out of view. A sliding glass partition now separates passenger compartment and cockpit, enhancing privacy while allowing light to enter from the aircraft’s fore-section. Overhead AC ducts have been center-aligned across the ceiling, providing passengers with cleaner, more symmetrical visual cues.
“Cumulatively, the passenger experience created by Hermès has exceeded our expectations, and is going to delight acquirers who value outstanding, yet unobtrusive design,” says Philippe Harache. “We set out to create a product that would add value and appeal for a highly desirable, but discriminating market segment. With ‘l’Hélicoptère par Hermès’, I can confidently say that we’ve kept our promise.”
First deliveries are scheduled for 2008, with aircraft availability world-wide.