20-Mar-2010 Source: Helibras
Eurocopter and its HelicÃ³pteros do Brasil-Helibras affiliate company today marked the construction start-up for a new rotary-wing center of excellence in Itajuba, Brazil, where Helibras will produce, assemble and maintain EC725 helicopters being acquired by the Brazilian armed forces.
Production of the EC725 at Itajuba will result in a doubling of production capability for Helibras â€“ which currently assembles Eurocopter AS350 Ecureuil light helicopters, as well as a doubling of its staff, which stands at approximately 300 employees today. It is also to mark a significant contribution to the development of Brazilâ€™s aeronautical industry â€“ bringing new manufacturing and assembly responsibilities to Eurocopterâ€™s Brazilian subsidiary, while also creating additional business and industrial opportunities for suppliers in the country.
Todayâ€™s groundbreaking ceremony took place in the presence of Nelson Jobim, the Brazilian Minister of Defense; AÃ©cio Neves, the governor of Minas Gerais; heads of the Brazilian Armed Forces; Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling, and Edouardo Marson Ferreira, President of Helibras and Chairman of EADS Brazil branch.
â€œWe are marking an important new step in the 32-year history of Helibras, as well as in Eurocopterâ€™s relationship with Brazil, which now will become even more part of our global supply chain,â€ Bertling said. â€œThis new facility also underscores Eurocopterâ€™s commitment of being close to its customers and in-sourcing high-value employment and business in key markets.â€
The EC725 is Eurocopterâ€™s latest version of its Super Puma/Cougar helicopter family. Brazil signed a contract in December 2008 to acquire 50 EC 725s for the countryâ€™s armed forces, which was the third most important export contract in Eurocopter history. As a highly capable twin-engine helicopter in the 11 metric ton category, the EC725 is designed for multiple missions, including combat SAR (search and rescue), long-range tactical transport, aeromedical transport, logistic support and naval missions.
The new 11,000-square-meter facility will accommodate areas for the EC725 assembly line and manufacturing areas, administrative offices, along with a design office for customization, production support and program management. This building will be environmentally friendly, with a maximum of natural light, the use of natural air circulation through much of the facility, plus the recovery of water.
Construction of the new facility is to be completed by the end of 2011, with assembly of EC725s to begin at Itajuba in early 2012. Helicopter deliveries from this Brazilian assembly line are scheduled to start toward the end of 2012. The industrial goal of supplying EC725s incorporating 50 percent Brazilian content is expected to be achieved in 2017.
The first three EC725s for the Brazilian armed forces will be manufactured by Eurocopter at its French factory and finalised in Itajuba, with these aircraft being delivered in late 2010.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 15,600 people. In 2009, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the worldâ€™s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover of 4.6 billion Euros, orders for 344 new helicopters, and a 52 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.
Overall, the Groupâ€™s products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence is ensured by its 18 subsidiaries on five continents, along with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centres. More than 10,500 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in more than 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and military helicopter range in the world.