NHIndustries A Leading Force in Rotorcraft Industry

Cristian Naso
Managing Director
NHIndustries and Head of NH90 Program at Leonardo

Established in 1992, NHIndustries, a French SAS company, is a global leader in the design and development of the NH90 Helicopter, for which NHI has managed the design, development and entry to service of both NAHEMA ( NATO Helicopter Management Agency) and export customers. Eyeing an expansion of its global outreach, NH90 will be at DIMDEX 2024 directly presented by QEAF in its naval version, the NFH.
“The Middle Eastern region is a vital market for NHI. The NH90 is the best solution for such a demanding operational environment and the unique needs of the regional armed forces. This is testified by the presence of the aircraft type with our customers in the area. The NH90 has proven its multirole capability with both TTH and NFH variants operating in the region,” said Cristian Naso Managing Director, NHIndustries and Head of NH90 Program at Leonardo. In an interview with Arabian Defence, he talks about the company’s operations, focus areas, expansion plans.






NHI has created a reputation of its own in the global helicopter industry. Could you talk about the inception and evolution of the company?
NHIndustries (NHI) is a consortium created to manage the NH90 Program ‘through life’, including design and development, production, marketing, sale, and in-service support. NHI is a French SAS company, based in Aix-en-Provence, wholly owned by Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters, and Fokker (the so-called Partner Companies). Established in 1992, it has delivered more than 500 aircraft to the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) and its export customers worldwide.
Being a collaboration of major European helicopter OEMs, NHI takes the best from the European Rotorcraft and Defence industry with each partner company having a strong aerospace pedigree, bringing the best of its skills and expertise to the NH90 product.
Airbus (31.25%)- Power plant, Rotors, Electrical system, Flight control system, Core avionic system, Production assembly, TTH Training.
Airbus Deutschland (31.25%)- Forward and centre fuselage, Fuel system, Communication system, Avionics control system, TTH mission system, Production assembly.
Fokker (5.5%)- Tail structure, Doors, Sponsons, Landing gear, Intermediate gearbox.
Leonardo Helicopters (32%)- Rear fuselage, Main gearbox, Hydraulic system, AFCS, Plant management system, NFH mission system, Weapons, Power plant, Production assembly, NFH Training.


NHI’s NH90 meets the needs of a modern military customer. Could you elaborate on the helicopter, its features, capabilities?
The NH90 provides the latest systems and capabilities, achieving the highest possible performance in all military missions whether at sea or on land.
Originally the result of NATO requirements, the NH90 is designed as a new generation multi-role helicopter, adapted to fulfil a wide scope of missions in an increasingly challenging and evolving operational environment. The NH90 features a carbon fibre airframe, fly-by-wire control systems, powerful and reliable engines, IR, Radar and noise reduction systems, and a highly integrated mission system that combines all the main functions of the aircraft (coms, nav, weapon suite, self-protection, radar, etc) necessary for mission success. The NH90 is offered in two main versions, Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH), featuring in both configurations true operational flexibility for a great variety of missions.

NHI promotes the concept of one helicopter for all missions. Could you talk more about it and how it works? The NH90 has a multi-role capability, enhancing its operational effectiveness in all military environments, and sharing a common platform designed for fleet rationalization and interoperability.NFH is considered one of the best naval helicopters in the world, capable of performing the full range of naval and maritime missions and the flexibility to rapidly adapt to operational needs. It is the ultimate maritime helicopter, designed to provide unparalleled superiority in any maritime environment.
With its advanced Naval Mission System, the NFH can integrate its sensors, sub-systems, and tactical computers into a single robust avionics architecture, giving it the ability to communicate over long distances with other aircraft, ships, and ground-based units providing unmatched situational awareness and coordination capabilities.
NFH Missions include ASW, ASuW, Anti-Piracy and counter-terrorism, Coast Guard (SAR) Airborne command post, Onshore and offshore MEDEVAC/CASEVAC, Maritime special operations, Boarding Operations /Maritime Troop Transport, Logistics, and VERTREP.
The NH90 TTH is an outstanding helicopter featuring unrivaled agility in its class. The Core System and Mission System greatly improve situational awareness in low visibility conditions, allowing the TTH to deal with the harshest environments, and improving flight safety in degraded visual environments such as brownout, white out, fog, or at night.
TTH is capable of Tactical troop transport, Special operations, Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR), Airborne command post, and Parachuting.



Could you share with us an overview of NHI’s integrated logistics support? What are the highlights of your maintenance and R&O services?
The NHI Product Support delivers an extensive range of support solutions that can be tailored to meet the unique requirements of each Customer’s organization. The support solutions available deliver a high-quality level of service to meet customers’ operational needs ensuring an effective delivery of the helicopter’s mission. NHI has over 300 personnel deployed globally at customer facilities ranging from technical engineers, logisticians, and NHI support representatives to increase the proximity between customers and OEM and enhance the level of support provided.
To date, the NH90 fleet has logged more than 410,000 operational flight hours. With a still increasing fleet size, combined with Customer operations demanding more from their aircraft, NHI plans with its Customers and Supply Chain partners doubling of flight hours in-service over the next five years.
NHI can offer a comprehensive level of logistic support packages, from the more standard ‘on-demand’ provision of spare parts and repairs to full ‘nose-to-tail’ turnkey solutions.
In addition, NHI is establishing a ‘Standard Exchange’ service, borrowing best practices established in the Civil / Dual-use market, to provide an enhanced level of support for Customers, introducing an additional competitive advantage for the NH90
From a maintenance perspective, the NH90 supportability is enhanced by using the Ground Logistics Management Information System (GLIMS) with direct interface to the aircraft’s onboard systems, allowing maintenance teams to manage the components on the aircraft. Further monitoring and diagnostics are possible through the intelligent Health and Usage Monitoring System where data is easily transferred to the GLIMS system and industry specialists for analysis, optimising the usage and reliability of the aircraft components.
On the technical side, NHI is well on the way to extending by 50% the Time Between Overhaul intervals of its major dynamic components to 1800FH, having already extended the Main and Intermediate Gearboxes.
The benefits of this extension not only allow the aircraft to fly longer between intervals reducing costs of operations, but it also allows operators to shift to a 900FH interval maintenance regime, thus further saving maintenance downtime and man-hours of 20%. There is a real emphasis on maintenance optimization, taking benefit of Customer return of experience, and tailoring the maintenance inspections to Operators’ specific needs. NHI has several initiatives ongoing, trialing this new concept with select Customers to prove the concept.
Through its two Customer Training facilities in Italy and France, NHI can offer more than 80 courses, which it provides to over 500 students each year.

How strong are your export operations? Which countries have your products in service?
NH90 is actively operated by the main NATO and non-NATO Nations: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Greece, Oman, Qatar, and New Zealand.
Overseas operations, both on land and on the sea, include among others Afghanistan, the Caribbean Sea, the Coast of Somalia, Iraq, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Namibia, Papua-New-Guinea.



How do you look at the Middle East region for expansion of NHI’s business operations? What are the existing operations in the region?
The Middle Eastern region is a vital market for NHI. The NH90 is the best solution for such a demanding operational environment and the unique needs of the regional armed forces. This is testified by the presence of the aircraft type with our customers in the area. The NH90 has proven its multirole capability with both TTH and NFH variants operating in the region.
Qatar offers the latest example of how the industry can offer a tailored support solution to the Customer and, in partnership with the Customer itself and with other NH90 End Users, provide dedicated maintenance and training facilities, managed by the relevant Partner Company of NHI (Leonardo Helicopters in the specific case, with the support of the Italian Navy and Army).



What are the highlights of NHI’s participation in the DIMDEX 2024?
An NH90 helicopter in its naval version (NFH) of Qatar Emiri Air Force, will be displayed at DIMDEX in a full Anti-Submarine configuration.
Since December 2021 the QEAF has received 18 helicopters of both variants built in the final assembly lines of Airbus (TTH version) and Leonardo (NFH version).
The Qatari fleet has already flown over 2,500 flight hours with an average serviceability rate above 80%, a testament to the strategic cooperation with Leonardo Helicopters, which is directly involved in providing training and maintenance support in the country.

What are the immediate goals ahead for the company? What are the expansion plans of NHI?
We are focused on three main pillars:
1. We are committed to ensuring the continuous technological superiority of the NH90 compared to our competitors: we are currently collaborating with many of our customers on significant upgrades. These include, among others, the first Data Link 22 on a helicopter, IFF mode 5 Level 2, a new HD Electro-Optical System, Enhanced Helmet Mounted Sight Display (HMSD), latest digital technology Sonar Systems, and an enhanced Electronic Support Measure (ESM) System.
2. We are adapting our in-service support to meet the increasing demand for flight hours, anticipating a sharp rise in the demand for fleet flight hours over the next five years, and we are prepared to meet this target with our supply chain. In 2023, we significantly increased our investment in Spare Parts (already exceeding 230M€) and reshaped our Repair & Overhaul (R&O) capacity to match the planned increased demand (more than +15% vs the previous year already achieved in 2023). We are also confident that the implementation of the “Standard Exchange” will further enhance our logistic capabilities. Also, to help Nations meet their ambitious goals, we are investing in the workforce, either directly or through strategic partnerships with local champions, to support Nations’ maintenance activities.
3. We continue to customize our operations, adapting to meet the latest Customer requirements, which increasingly move more of the Armed Forces activities to Industry. This partnership between the Armed Forces and Industry is central in the modern context, where Industry fully manages asset-related aspects, allowing the Armed Forces to focus on their mission. We believe this type of partnership will only grow stronger, and NHI has proven its capabilities in this very demanding Middle East area.
As you can understand, the plan of NHI and its Partner Companies is continuously heading towards improving and adapting to Nations’ demands and needs. Partnership with our Customers is essential in achieving the ambitious growth plan we jointly defined. The results of such actions are at the base of our offer proposition to new potential NH90 Customers: we are recording a great interest in the NH90, especially in its NFH version, which is openly considered the most capable platform in its segment.
NHI is actively working to expand its customer base, with new Users joining the NH90 Community, and to possibly enlarge the fleet of existing Customers, recognising the unparalleled performance of this unique platform.



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