Itajuba, Brazil, 19 March 2010
Eurocopter and its Helicópteros 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 – 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 Brazil’s aeronautical industry – bringing new manufacturing and assembly responsibilities to Eurocopter’s Brazilian subsidiary, while also creating additional business and industrial opportunities for suppliers in the country.
Today’s groundbreaking ceremony took place in the presence of Nelson Jobim, the Brazilian Minister of Defense; Aécio 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.
“We are marking an important new step in the 32-year history of Helibras, as well as in Eurocopter’s relationship with Brazil, which now will become even more part of our global supply chain,” Bertling said. “This new facility also underscores Eurocopter’s commitment of being close to its customers and in-sourcing high-value employment and business in key markets.”
The EC725 is Eurocopter’s latest version of its Super Puma/Cougar helicopter family. Brazil signed a contract in December 2008 to acquire 50 EC 725s for the country’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.