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.
The plan was developed as a way to offset the impact of the reduction in production of UH-72A Lakota helicopters at the Mississippi facility, as well as “to help provide a boost to sales in the U.S. market, especially with government and law enforcement agencies,” Eurocopter said.
“North America is the largest light helicopter market in the world for Eurocopter, and this new assembly line supports our industrial strategy by manufacturing the preferred AS350, ‘Made in the USA,’ in close proximity to our customers,” said Eurocopter global supply chain executive vice president Joseph Saporito. “This decision further supports our investments that have developed reliable and efficient local industrial capabilities in a market with strong expected growth.”
The Columbus plant is American Eurocopter’s second location aside from its headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas.