April 10, 2013: This week’s LAAD Defense & Security exposition will feature a comprehensive lineup of Eurocopter light- and medium-lift helicopters, underscoring the company’s position as a rotorcraft supplier to Brazil’s civil and military operators while also highlighting its role as a strategic partner to the country’s aviation industry.
Exhibited at the Riocentro convention center in Rio de Janeiro are a Brazilian Army AS350 Fennec, two EC725s from the Brazilian Air Force and Navy fleets, a modernised Panther K2 for the Brazilian Army, an EC145 operated by police in the state of Bahía, and the enhanced AS350 B3e.
The LAAD Defense & Security exposition also provides an opportunity for Eurocopter to mark the 35th anniversary of its Helibras subsidiary in Brazil, and the company will perform a cornerstone laying ceremony for the new Rio de Janeiro facility being built to house a flight simulator for the EC225/EC725 helicopters.
“With its long-term commitment to Brazil, Eurocopter is ready for the next qualitative steps in serving this important market – providing helicopters that best meet operators’ needs while further enhancing our customer support and industrial capabilities,” explained Mesrob Karalekian, Eurocopter’s Vice President - Sales and Customer Relations for the Americas.
Till date, 600-plus Eurocopter helicopters have been delivered to military and civil clients in Brazil, with the company holding a 50 per cent share of the country’s military and civil markets. The Helibras operation has expanded to include more than 730 employees, and generated an annual turnover of more than 155 million euros.
Helibras’ industrial site at Itajubá in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais has become a world-class rotary-wing centre of excellence for the production, assembly and maintenance of EC725 helicopters being acquired by Brazil’s three armed forces. The site also creates the framework for potential future helicopter development in the country, along with the evolution of Brazil’s aviation industry supply chain.
“Our presence at LAAD this year is marked with a special milestone, as our company is celebrating its 35th anniversary,” said Helibras CEO Eduardo Marson. “Helibras has experienced strong growth in this time and we are continuing to invest to secure a solid future for our company, with our Brazilian EC725 assembly line now in force and the development of our after-sales capacity”.
At the LAAD Defense & Security exposition, Eurocopter’s AS350 Fennec on display is the military version of the single-engine multi-purpose Ecureuil. The AS350 Fennec was the first helicopter type built by Helibras – with more than 400 of the Brazilian-assembled rotorcraft, known by their Esquilos designation, delivered till date.
The two EC725s participating symbolise the major acquisition of these twin-engine helicopters by Brazil’s armed forces in the largest such contract ever signed in South America. Helibras’ production of EC725s at Itajubá results from a €160 million investment, which includes the facility’s establishment of the various elements necessary for helicopter production, as well as the organisation and operation of related training programmes for personnel.
Also appearing at the show is the first modernised twin-engine Panther K2 for the Brazilian Army, which will be presented to the military service for its technical evaluations. Helibras won a contract in 2009 for the modernisation of 34 Panthers, which includes the integration of new Turbomeca Arriel 2C2 CG engines and communication systems into this version of Eurocopter’s Dauphin helicopter family.
The Bahía police service’s twin-engine EC145 helicopter, which demonstrates the company’s capability to integrate mission equipment in meeting the needs of Brazilian military operators, is also being showcased. And completing the line-up is the display of an enhanced AS350 B3e, featuring improved hot-and-high performance as well as a modern cockpit that incorporates the dual-screen vehicle and engine multifunction display (VEMD).