RIO DE JANEIRO – Following the EU-Brazil summit, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil officially announced the contract for 50 EC725 helicopters which has been signed by the Brazilian government and a consortium formed by Eurocopter and Helibras. The helicopters will be operated by Brazil’s armed forces and the first deliveries are scheduled for 2010. This is the largest contract ever signed in South America and will provide Brazil with a fleet that is capable of performing an extremely wide range of missions. The contract will also allow Eurocopter to continue its expansion in South America.
"This is an important achievement for Eurocopter, Helibras and the Brazilian government," said Eurocopter President Lutz Bertling. "This contract is the result of the close industrial partnership and the long-standing relationship that we have with Brazil, and we are particularly proud that the EC725s will be produced in this country. This contract heralds a new era for Helibras, which will become an outstanding center of aeronautical excellence in South America."
Louis Gallois, CEO of EADS, Eurocopter’s mother company, added, "EADS considers Brazil as a priority country in its long term partnership strategy. Our group has been developing its different activities there for many years: Airbus, ATR, military transport aircraft, space and security equipments. This major contract is fully in line with our strategy."
This historic contract is part of the joint declaration on defense cooperation signed by the French and Brazilian defense secretaries on June 30, 2008 – a date which also marked the 30th anniversary of Helibras.
Eurocopter has been in Brazil for more than 30 years through its subsidiary Helibras located in Itajuba in the state of Minas Gerais. Helibras employs 270 people and is the only helicopter manufacturer with an established presence in South America. In 30 years, Helibras has delivered almost 500 aircraft, becoming the leader in the Brazilian market.
The new contract will double the production capacity and the number of staff at the Itajuba plant, where the EC725 helicopters will be manufactured, assembled and undergo maintenance support activities after delivery.
This contract will also make a significant contribution to the development of Brazil’s aeronautical industry, as local companies will be closely involved in the manufacturing activities and will benefit from technology transfers.
Eurocopter’s subsidiary has a 50 percent share of the civil market, a 67 percent share of the military market, and a 80 percent share of the parapublic market in Brazil. In addition to its production and export activities in Latin America, Helibras also carries out customization, maintenance and technical support work on Eurocopter aircraft. As many as 8,000 pilots and technicians have already been trained in its training center.
The EC725 is the latest addition to the Cougar family. Prior to the signing of this contract, 96 EC725 and EC225 helicopters (its civil version) had been ordered by 17 different countries. The EC725 is a twin-engine helicopter with a five-bladed main rotor in the medium-lift category (11 metric tons). The aircraft has an exceptional fuel capacity and boasts a flight endurance of five-and-a-half hours. The EC725 has been designed to perform various missions, including combat search and rescue, long distance tactical transport, emergency medical services, logistics support, and naval assignments. It was this multi-role capability that made the EC725 the logical choice for the Brazilian armed forces.
Eurocopter and Helibras Celebrate the Groundbreaking for the New EC 725 Helicopter Assembly Line in Brazil
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.
The objective is to extend the life of the current fleet by at least 25 years thanks to modernization and reconstruction.
Christian Gras has been named within the Eurocopter Group as Executive Vice President, Customers and will be reporting directly to Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling.
These new installations will house the new assembly line and tests of the Makila 2 engine and of the Auxiliary Power Unit Saphir 20.