The collaboration between Airbus Helicopters, one of the leading aerospace manufacturers in the world, and luxury car maker Aston Martin, spawned the development of a limited-edition Airbus ACH130 Aston Martin Edition helicopter, which would easily be any discerning jetsetter’s dream aircraft.
Take it from Australian tech entrepreneur John-Paul Thorbjornsen, one of the 18 privileged owners of this bespoke helicopter. Thorbjornsen, who used to work with the Air Force, was so eager to take his chopper for a spin that upon receiving it from Airbus’ Oxford, UK facility in early February, he decided to fly it home to Australia rather than having it shipped in the usual manner.
This globetrotter has embarked on a 10,000-nautical mile journey across 21 countries in just 41 days, navigating the skies aboard his ACH130. Presently, he has logged approximately 400 flight hours in under nine months. He has explored various Australian states, more extensively in the Northern Territory, as well as East Timor.
Thorbjornsen's journey was not without its challenges, as he navigated changing weather elements and logistical obstacles. Nevertheless, he has no regrets about crossing the world with the ACH130.
The heli enthsiast was recently in the country to tell Filipino journalists about his amazing adventure and how impressed he’s been by the performance and comfort of the ACH130. He’s also convinced that “Aston Martin Edition is the most attractive private helicopter on the market, combining Airbus’ engineering excellence and Aston Martin’s craftsmanship.”
His dream, says Thorbjornsen, is to travel from North Pole to South Pole with his ACH130. “I’ve read about a stories of people traveling doing that. I told myself, that is something to aim for,” he tells ANCX.
We didn’t solely rely on Thorbjornsen's word because we were fortunate to have the rare opportunity to see the Airbus ACH130 Aston Martin Edition helicopter up close and have a firsthand flight experience. I must say, it was one of the most enjoyable, comfortable, and seamless flights I’ve ever had.
“The idea here is to captivate the imagination of discerning buyers who are thrilled by driving luxurious, high performance vehicles,” explains Jussi Hoikka, managing director for Airbus Helicopters Philippines.
“We offer the Airbus Corporate Helicopters line, which is our premium product designed for the private and business aviation segment — that’s the ACH. Within ACH, we have nice Airbus designs, featuring luxurious leather interiors, carpets, and unique paintscapes. The collaboration with Aston Martin elevates it further, with designs by Aston Martin, drawing inspiration, specifically from the DB11. It was really to cater to that market segment looking for something unique, something limited edition,” he says.
Hoikka says only 30 units of this stylish special edition of the ACH130 helicopter will be produced, and 18 are already sold. He’s pleased with the positive response from the Philippine market. In fact, during the demo event, several individuals inquired about purchasing the showcased unit. “It’s already been sold,” he told them. “If you want one, you can place an order, and it takes a little over a year for delivery. The standard version takes about a year, and the Aston Martin version adds an extra month to that.”
The good thing is that Airbus and Aston Martin offer customization according to the client's preference. “You can try to sort of mix and match the exterior paints with the interior carpets and different leather materials that we have,” he says, showing the available colors and materials on display at the venue.
The H130 is a well-established presence in the Philippines, with 26 units currently in operation. “[This helicopter] is very well suited for the Philippine environment, excelling both in performance and safety features. It’s the bestselling model within our range in the Philippines,” Hoikka offers.
Moreover, Airbus Helicopters has been a presence in the Philippines since 1997, providing comprehensive factory support to customers. “We support nearly 90 helicopters currently operational in the country, and our commitment to innovation extends to our servicing approach,” Hoikka adds.