French turbine helicopter engine manufacturer Turbomeca, coming off a record production year in 2005, is at Heli-Expo’06 working to secure a beachhead in its “American Invasion” program, an effort designed to emphasize increased production capacity and support capabilities at Turbomeca USA.
Turbomeca president Emeric d’Arcimoles said his company is increasing its workforce worldwide, and notably in the U.S. where employment is being doubled at Turbomeca USA. There, at its facility southwest of Dallas, Turbomeca assembles and tests all engines destined for the North American market. A near doubling of production floor space at the Grand Prairie site is in progress. D’Arcimoles added, “We are increasing our supplier base and have been contacting a lot of new potential vendors in the U.S.”
Turbomeca (Booth No. C151) has allocated approximately $50 million for facilities, equipment and parts procurement in the U.S. to expand production and product support activities at Turbomeca USA. Approximately $10 million funds a 67,000-sq-ft expansion begun last June, which is to be fully operational by May. Upon completion, Turbomeca will have increased the number of jobs and square footage at its Grand Prairie facility from 180 employees and 70,000 sq ft to approximately 330 employees and 137,000 sq ft.
Turbomeca USA produced 234 new engines last year and is ramping up to 550 in 2007. The expansion will house the new U.S.-based procurement center that will develop the U.S. supplier network for critical engine components such as impellers, disks, combustion chambers and gears.
Last year Turbomeca had a record year in which it produced 864 engines, roughly 10 percent more than in 2004, and added more than 1,200 engines to its order book. “For 2006 we expect to deliver about 1,000 engines,” d’Arcimoles predicted. “It’s an important growth situation we face. Global growth is affecting all aspects. There is strong demand from the U.S., China and India. We have made a 70-percent increase in industrial investment over the past two years, and we are continuing to expand production capacity for engines and spares worldwide.”
Turbomeca builds seven engine families, of which the Arrius and Arriel (named for French Pyrenees peaks) are the most numerous in the U.S. market. Arrius turboshaft engines power the Eurocopter EC 135, EC 120 and AS 355. At Heli-Expo’06, Turbomeca is celebrating two million flight hours on the Arrius series, and 20 million flight hours for the Arriel family.
A new turboshaft currently under development, the Ardiden, represents an entirely new engine core, targeting the five- to six-ton class of helicopters. The first version, the 1H, has been selected to power an advanced version of the Indian Dhruv helicopter from Hindustan Aerospace (HAL). The Ardiden 1H completed its first test bench run in September. Certification is anticipated by year-end, with first deliveries in 2008. Turbomeca’s TM333 is the engine on the present HAL Dhruv as seen at the Paris Air Show last summer.