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. and, according to the manufacturer, represents nearly 40 percent of its worldwide in-service rotorcraft fleet. More than 3,500 AS350s are operating today.
Preparations for the new assembly line will start “almost immediately,” according to Eurocopter (Booth No. C11606B), which expects production to begin in Columbus in the fourth quarter of 2014. The company says the plant will produce up to 60 additional helicopters annually by 2016.
“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…in close proximity to our customers,” said Joseph Saporito, executive vice president of the global supply chain for Eurocopter.