On December 23, 2008, the Brazilian
government signed a contract for 50 EC725s
in the presence of Brazilian President
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and French President
Last December 23, following a joint declaration on defense cooperation signed by the French and Brazilian defense secretaries on June 30, 2008 (see Rotor Journal no. 78), the Brazilian government signed a contract for 50 EC725s with a consortium formed by Eurocopter and Helibras. These EC725s will be operated by three Brazilian armed forces: The troop transport version aircraft by the army, the combat search and res cue version aircraft by the air force and the naval version aircraft by the navy. The first deliveries are scheduled for 2010, which will make Brazil the largest operator of EC725s.
This agreement, the biggest contract ever signed in South America at 1.9 billion euros, will also make Helibras become an outstanding center of aeronautical excellence in South America. “Such a contract represents an enormous challenge to our company, as the contract implies our consolidation as a true Brazilian rotary wing manufacturer in the near future”, explained Eduardo Mauad, Vice President and COO of Helibras. “This goal will be reached via the implementation of a final assembly line for the EC225 as well as a fully-equipped engineering development center that can design and develop complex installations for the locally produced EC725s. The contract also means that Helibras must be able to provide a large range of support and services: to this end, we will build a full-flight simulation center which will allow us to provide training to both local and Latin American customers and a complete D-level maintenance center for Super Puma AS332/532s and EC225/725s, which will be open to our customers in 2010. And to accompany EC725 operations, we will also offer our customers a comprehensive ILS program including a Parts-by-the-Hour (PBH) contract, to ensure the availability of their rotorcraft.”
Big challenges lie ahead Helibras, which has produced Ecureuil AS350s since 1980 in Itajubá-MG (230 km from Săo Paulo), as assembling the EC725 more than quadruples the amount of work currently performed on its site! To ensure that they are able to provide manufacturing, assembly and maintenance support activities after delivery, Helibras is taking concrete action to adapt its facilities and resources: For example, a brand new 10,000 m2 hangar is to be built in Itajubá at the beginning of 2009 for the new final assembly line. In addition, all newly hired technicians will undergo an extensive training program this year, as Helibras plans to double its current headcount.