LABACE Convention News

Helibras expands Eurocopter capability

 - August 13, 2013, 6:30 PM
New approval from French aviation authorities has cleared the way for Helibras to add to its product range by manufacturing the large-cabin EC225 helicopter on behalf of its parent group, Eurocopter, in addition to these smaller models. (Photo: David McIntosh)

Helicopter service, support and manufacturing specialist Helibras (Helicópteros do Brasil) recently received authorization from France’s DGAC aviation authority to produce the Eurocopter EC225 in Brazil.

With that action, the company’s facilities at Itajubá have become known as Eurocopter Helibras, a formal extension of production by the Eurocopter group, which is headquartered at Marignane in the south of France. According to Helibras, that was its goal since signing a contract with the Brazilian armed forces to supply the EC725 from a new purpose-built factory in the country.

The EC225 Super Puma twin-engine heavy transport is a civil version of the EC725 military variant. A team formed exclusively of Brazilian technicians recently completed assembly of a full EC725 gearbox. This work, according to Helibras, was done without direct supervision or monitoring from France, evidence that the skills and technology have been successfully transferred to Eurocopter Helibras.

“We are fulfilling all the steps drawn up since announcement of the technological cooperation, and there are just a few more steps necessary to permit the maintenance and manufacture of helicopters throughout the Eurocopter rotorcraft fleet,” said Helibras president Eduardo Marson.

At this point, the assembly line in Itajubá is fully dedicated to the EC725 for the Brazilian armed forces. Delivery of the next units are expected to run from late 2013 to mid-2014.

Initial deliveries of the EC225 civil Super Puma, according to Helibras (Chalet 5101), depend on commercial agreements being negotiated with several of the region’s oil and gas companies.

Helibras, in business since 1979, is the only Brazilian manufacturer of helicopters and maintains facilities in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, in addition to those at Itajubá. The company is responsible for the assembly work, as well as new and after-market sales of Eurocopter helicopters in Brazil. Helibras delivers approximately 36 helicopters annually.

In addition, Helibras operates an extensive customer support and service structure and holds nearly a dozen approvals from aviation authorities in a number of countries, in addition to Brazil.

Last month, Eurocopter’s parent group EADS announced that the company is to be renamed Airbus Helicopters as of Jan. 1, 2014. This is part of a wider corporate rebranding under which EADS, as a whole, will adopt the Airbus name.

“Eurocopter has grown to be the most international company in the EADS group,” commented Eurocopter CEO Guillaume Faury. “Over the past decade we have developed our international footprint in the most emerging markets and are also well known in key countries such as the U.S. and Brazil, and even in Asia. Our name no longer limits itself to just Europe.”