Eurocopter has announced that its American Eurocopter subsidiary will upgrade its Columbus, Miss. facility, allowing it to serve as a final assembly and test site for the AS350. The AS350 work will offset a reduction in assembly operations on the UH-72A Lakota military helicopter and also help Eurocopter increase AS350 sales in the U.S. The model is the bestselling civil helicopter in the U.S.
Eurocopter announced yesterday that it will upgrade the American Eurocopter plant in Columbus, Miss., to accommodate final assembly of the AS350, which it said is the top-selling civil helicopter in the U.S. market. AS350 production is expected to start at the plant in the fourth quarter of next year and will ramp up to 60 of the light single-engine helicopters annually by 2016.
American Eurocopter announced several new initiatives at the recent Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA) annual convention, most of them related to how the company supports the more than 200 AS350 AStars in use with U.S. law-enforcement agencies.
European aerospace behemoth EADS has aligned its brand with its aircraft manufacturing division to become simply Airbus Group, and is also applying the Airbus brand to its two other main divisions. Thus, Eurocopter will become Airbus Helicopters, and the defense and space divisions, Cassidian and Astrium, will be merged into one unit–Airbus Defence and Space–representing the third division.
American Eurocopter’s blade shop in Grand Prairie, Texas, is a busy place. The 20 craftsmen repair and refurbish 1,000 helicopter main and tail rotor blades every year. That translates into 95 percent of all Eurocopter blade work in the U.S.
Much of the work is done by hand. “It is a slow process,” acknowledges shop manager Jim Tully. “It would be nice if we could find a way to go faster, but it has to be done the same way. With fiberglass, it wouldn’t take long to scrap out a blade completely” if a mistake were made.
The aerospace and transportation systems division of the Liebherr Group represented only 11 percent of the multinational group’s 2011 turnover of €8.3 billion ($11.5 billion). And its customer service facility in Saline, Michigan, a city of 9,000 people near Detroit, is a long way from Liebherr’s headquarters in the picturesque town of Bulle, Switzerland.
The Eurocopter X3 arrived in the U.S. today for a month-long tour to demonstrate the high-speed hybrid helicopter’s “unique operational capabilities” for both civil and military operators. It was transported from Eurocopter’s Istres, France flight test center to American Eurocopter in Grand Prairie, Texas, aboard a chartered cargo jet. The X3’s five-city U.S. tour will start on June 20 in Grand Prairie. In addition to aerial demonstrations performed with Eurocopter’s test team, the X3 will be available for flight evaluations by selected U.S.
Becker Avionics is in Dallas celebrating several new contracts. The first is to provide DVCS 6100 digital audio and intercom systems to OSF HealthCare, Peoria, Ill. for its four new EC145 air medical helicopters. The German avionics maker will also serve the U.S. Army as part of the UH-72A Lakota mission equipment package (MEP), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with their new PC-12s.
As the Eurocopter EC145 T2 light twin helicopter has completed “hot and high” testing, the manufacturer has released “promising” performance estimates.
American Eurocopter built on its lead in the U.S. medevac market by announcing more than two dozen new helicopter sales this month at the Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC) in St. Louis. The company announced the sale of 26 helicopters–10 singles and 16 twins–at the event. “This was a solid showing for our company,” said American Eurocopter president Marc Paganni.
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