Real Chances for Success

UH-145 - The EC145, which has been renamed the UH-145 for the occasion, is part of the Eurocopter response to the invitation for bids launched by the US Army for 322 light utility helicopters. The winner will be announced in June 2006.

© Shannon Bower
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From late January through early March, the UH-145 performed flight demonstrations organized by the US Army at the Fort Rucker airfield in Alabama. The helicopter successfully passed every test. Two machines were sent to the airfield, but only one was finally needed. The maneuverability, the quality of the technical equipment – in particular the man-machine interface – and the flight performances were the main areas covered in the flight test program.

Next on the schedule was the visit of a US Army delegation to the Eurocopter plant in Donauwörth on 23 and 24 March. The first two UH-145s are currently being manufactured at the p l a n t , and their delivery is scheduled for next September when the program is to be launched. What’s more, the parts and components required to build six additional UH - 145 s are also being manufactured. In July 2006, the first UH-145 will be delivered to the American Eurocopter plant in Columbus, Mississippi. The US plant will then perform the customization work on the helicopter. If the contract is entrusted to EADS North America as “prime contractor”, Eurocopter will deliver a total of eight machines in 2006.

Thirty more helicopters will be manufactured in 2007, and 47 in 2008 on the final assembly line in Columbus. The contract could make it possible for American Eurocopter to create 350 new jobs in Columbus. A team responsible for program management and procurement will be created. Tom Harrison, the future director of the program, has already set up his offices in Hundsville, Alabama.

Working Together to Succeed
Eurocopter, through its subsidiary American Eurocopter, is receiving staunch support from EADS North America for the project. What’s more, two strategic partnerships have been signed with Sikorsky and WestWind Technologies. Sikorsky, which would be responsible for the logistics of the 322 aircraft, has a great deal of experience in the military sector with the Black Hawk, but does not have a helicopter in its range that meets the needs of the US Army’s invitation for bids.

WestWind Technologies, which has been cooperating for many years with the logistics arsenal of the US Army in Redstone, Alabama, is a specialist in the installation of mission equipment. With this arrangement, everyone can benefit from the experience of the other partners. Eurocopter has thus found all the right ingredients if the UH-145 should win the contract.

Vanessa Schmidt-Creton

Three Production Phases

• Through the end of 2006: 75% of the work on the UH-145s will be performed at the Eurocopter plant in Donauwörth, and the helicopters will then be customized in Columbus.

• Beginning in April 2007: Eurocopter will supply the subassemblies for the final assembly of the UH-145 at the Columbus plant.

• Beginning in November 2007:
Eurocopter will supply the detail parts and the Columbus plant will be responsible for the entire final assembly process, including flight tests, acceptance, etc.