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The only helicopter manufacturer installed in Brazil and Latin America’s only Eurocopter assembly plant, Helibras was founded in 1978 in São José dos Campos, in São Paulo’s country area, with a pre-operating phase in G.T.A’s hangar. The company was created based on a project developed by French company Aerospatiale, meeting a request made by the Brazilian Government.

In 1979, the Brazilian Government recognized the company as being of national interest. On March 28th 1980, Helibras’ plant located in Itajubá, south of Minas Gerais, was opened with the attendance of federal and state authorities. Currently with 14 thousand square meters of construction area, the unit is in charge of the assembly, sales and after-sales of the Eurocopter helicopters in Brazil.

Four years after the plant’s opening in Itajubá, a contract established between the Brazilian Air Force and Aerospatiale guarantees the supply of 13 Super Puma helicopters (medium heavy), 22 single turbine Esquilo models industrialized in Helibras, and 36 double-turbine Esquilo models.

In 1988, the Aerospatiale / Helibras / Engesa consortium wins the international bid to supply to the Brazilian Army 36 Panther helicopters and 16 Esquilo helicopters, followed by another 20 Esquilo helicopters. Three years later, in 1991, the company promotes its first capital restructuring, which was kept until today, with the entry of a new partner, Bueninvest. In the same year, Helibras decides to transfer its commercial department to São Paulo. This year also marks the delivery by Helibras of its 200th aircraft to the Brazilian market.

In 1992, the Eurocopter company is created in France, as a result of the merger between Aerospatiale’s and Daimler Benz’ helicopter divisions. The company then becomes the new Helibras head office, one of the four subsidiaries consolidated in the Group.

In 1998, when the company celebrated its 20th anniversary, it inaugurates its hangar facilities in Campo de Marte, São Paulo, where the company’s commercial department, spare parts warehouse and maintenance workshop are currently located in a 3.8 thousand square-meter complex, allowing the company to offer exclusive services with higher efficiency to support the fleet operating in the region.

In 1999, Helibras celebrates the delivery, in the Brazilian market, of its 400th helicopter. Last year, the company delivers the first Cougar to the Brazilian Army, and prepares for mechanical intervention in the Dauphin, while expanding the capacity of the workshops aimed at the the EC 120’s and EC 135’s maintenance.

The company has a base at the Jacarepaguá Airport, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, to support the region’s customers. Helibras’ services and customer care structures allow the company to offer full support and maximum availability to its customers’ aircrafts throughout Brazil and also in Latin America.

Helibras also provides operators with full technical guidance. In the training center located in Itajubá, over 60 different programs are offered to the customer for training and recycling pilots, technicians and mechanics. Since its creation, Helibras has already produced and delivered to the market more than 460 aircrafts. Today, out of Brazil’s 840 turbine-driven helicopter fleet, 392 are Helibras models, whose quality is also proven by South American countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela.

The range of products commercialized by Helibras includes Colibri EC 120, all the Esquilo (AS 350 e AS 355) family, models EC 130, EC 135, EC 145 and BK 117, Dauphin AS 365, EC 155 and the Super Puma family, both in the civil versions and in the military configurations.

Helibras has its ownership structure divided into Minas Gerais’ MGI Participações Industriais, Grupo Bueninvest and Eurocopter. Holding 45% of Helibras’ voting shares and 76.5% of the total capital, the Eurocopter Group – the world’s leader in helicopter sales – is present in five continents, with 15 subsidiaries.

Eurocopter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS. EADS is the second largest aerospace and defence company in the world. It is a systems integrator and as such one of the few companies worldwide capable of combining various products and technologies to form complete systems. EADS is a market leader in civil aeronautics, defence and security technology, helicopters, launchers, satellites, military transport and combat aircraft and the associated services. The company has over 70 sites in France, Germany, Great Britain and Spain and is active in many regions worldwide, amongst them America, Russia and Asia.

Eurocopter marked a major development for Brazil's aeronautical industry October 3, 2012 with the inauguration of its Helibras subsidiary's new rotary-wing center of excellence in Itajubá, Minas Gerais, where Brazilian Armed Forces EC725 helicopters will be assembled. Helibras’ new Itajubá plant will produce, assemble and maintain the EC725s being acquired by Brazil’s three armed forces in the largest such contract ever signed in South America – providing a highly capable aircraft fleet based on Eurocopter’s renowned Super Puma/Cougar helicopter family. The new industry capabilities will also enable Helibras to build the civilian EC225 version, providing locally-manufactured helicopters for off-shore oil and gas operations, as well as other applications.

In addition to establishing a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, this center will create the framework for potential future helicopter development in the country, along with the evolution of its aviation industry supply chain. “The Itajubá plant represents our latest milestone in a relationship spanning more than 30 years with Brazil, and underscores Eurocopter’s commitment of being in proximity to its customers while in-sourcing high-value business in key markets,” said Eurocopter President and CEO Lutz Bertling. “

Total investment in the new Helibras Itajubá industrial site is €160 million, which includes creation of the facility, establishment of the various elements necessary for helicopter production, as well as the organization and operation of related training programs for personnel. The plant is part of a €1.8 billion agreement signed by Helibras and the Brazilian Defense Ministry in 2008 for acquisition of the EC725s to be operated by Brazil’s three armed forces – which are to include progressively 50 percent Brazilian-made content.

“This program meets the Brazilian government’s goals of acquiring mission-capable, customized helicopters for its armed forces, while bringing in valuable expertise for the country’s aeronautical industry and the supply chain,” stated Eduardo Marson Ferreira, the Helibras President.

The new Helibras Itajubá production facility was built using state-of-the-art engineering, incorporating the most modern construction materials and sustainability concepts. As examples, the main building’s architecture favors the use of natural light for interior illumination, while solar panels provide electricity and translucent industrial shutters facilitate ventilation. The production facility’s roof area also is in compliance with the latest sustainability concepts, and rainwater will be collected and reused for industrial processes. These features will contribute to energy savings of 231 kWh per month and water savings of 20 cubic meters monthly. Additionally, a recycling program is to collect approximately four tons of material per month, representing an important incentive for Itajubá’s environmental preservation efforts.

By 2013 over 600 Eurocopter helicopters had been delivered to military and civil clients in Brazil, with the company holding a 50 percent share of the country’s military and civil markets. The Helibras operation has expanded to include more than 730 employees, and generated an annual turnover of more than 155 million euros.

Helibras’ industrial site at Itajubá in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais has become a world-class rotary-wing center of excellence for the production, assembly and maintenance of EC725 helicopters being acquired by Brazil’s three armed forces. This site also creates the framework for potential future helicopter development in the country, along with the evolution of Brazil’s aviation industry supply chain.

The Brazilian army's first upgraded Eurocopter AS565 Pantera Mk2 was handed over by Helibras in December 2012. A second aircraft will follow in March 2013, and if the deliveries meet the service's requirements, a further 22-unit upgrade deal could follow.

H-36 EC725 Cougar

The EC725 is Eurocopter’s latest member of its Super Puma/Cougar helicopter family. As a highly capable twin-engine helicopter in the 11-metric-ton category, it is designed for multiple missions, including combat search and rescue, long-range tactical transport, aeromedical transport, logistic support and naval duties. Its civil version, the EC225, counts more than 110 helicopters in service around the world, with 190,000 flight hours logged to date by this fleet. Only in Brazil, 14 EC225s are operated for offshore transport to oil and gas platforms in the Santos and Campos areas.

In December 2008, Brazil placed a €1.9bn ($2.72bn) order for 50 EC 725 helicopters - 16 for the navy, 16 for the army and 18 for the air force. The helicopters are being manufactured in Brazil by Eurocopter's subsidiary Helibras. The first three EC 725 helicopters were delivered to Brazil in December 2010. By 2011 four of the 50 rotorcraft ordered had been delivered - one each to the air force, army and navy, with the other for use as a VIP transport. Brazil's armed forces were set to receive a further three Eurocopter EC725s in 2012, with each service again to receive a single unit. Deliveries were to increase to eight in 2013 and 13 the following year. Deliveries are scheduled for completion by 2016. As part of the agreement, these helicopters are to progressively include 50 percent Brazilian-made content. A state-of-the-art assembly facility created by Helibras at Itajubá will produce the EC725s, along with EC225 civilian versions for the regional marketplace.

Helibras contracts with EC725 suppliers in Brazil include Toyo Matic Aerospace, which already has produced the first “made in Brazil” rotor head sleeves to be used on the helicopters; Aernnova do Brasil for metal tailbooms; Turbomeca do Brasil for the supply of engines; Sagem/TM for autopilot systems; Rohde & Schwarz do Brasil for radios; AEL Aeroeletrônica, to supply cockpit instrumentation; Microturbo/TM for auxiliary power units; SDV Brasil for logistics; AKAER for engineering services; and manufacturing tooling suppliers RCS, GNS, UNISTIL, MASTER, ITAKAR and IFAM.

On October 3, 2012 Eurocopter’s Helibras subsidiary signed yesterday a contract with Brazil’s InbraAerospace to supply composite armor protection on the Brazilian armed forces’ multi-role EC725 helicopters to be assembled in the new plant. This new agreement brings to 15 the number of supplier contracts already placed for Brazilian-made content on the EC725s, which are to be operated in missions that include combat search and rescue, long-range tactical transport, aeromedical transport, logistic support and naval duties. InbraAerospace was selected to provide the EC725 composite armor after a rigorous international competition – reinforcing this company’s role as a Eurocopter subcontractor.

By 2012 Helibras had delivered the first four EC725s to Brazil – which were assembled at Eurocopter’s production site in France, to be followed by the Itajubá-built helicopters. The first of these are today in the Final Assembly Line in the new Brazilian facility, including an EC725 that will serve as the development and systems integration aircraft for the in-country development of the Utility and Naval mission systems. 2017 is the deadline to deliver the 50 aircraft.

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Page last modified: 15-09-2013 19:02:59 ZULU