MILITARY | OFFSHORE
The news, which came on December 23, 2008, was released following the EU-Brazil summit held in Rio de Janeiro. As well, Brazil is purchasing five submarines from France; one of which will be nuclear-powered using Brazilian-developed technology.
Collectively, the 50 twin-engine medium-lift EC725s and five subs will allow Brazil’s armed forces to beef up their presence on the Amazon river and the country’s resource-rich offshore zone. Total cost: $12 billion. The first of the EC725s are due to be delivered in 2010.
The EC725 sale is a big win for Eurocopter and its Brazilian subsidiary Helibras, which will be manufacturing, assembling and providing maintenance support for the EC725s at its Itajuba plant. (Eurocopter has a 45% stake in Helibras.) In business for more than 30 years, Helibras employs 270 people. To date, it has delivered almost 500 aircraft.
The EC725 contract will double the production capacity and the number of staff at the Itajuba plant. According to Eurocopter, this is the largest helicopter sale in South American history.
"This contract is the result of the close industrial partnership and the long-standing relationship that we have with Brazil, and we are particularly proud that the EC725s will be produced in this country," said Eurocopter President Lutz Bertling. "This contract heralds a new era for Helibras, which will become an outstanding center of aeronautical excellence in South America."
One thing is certain, the EC725 deal will bolster Eurocopter’s already dominant position in the Brazilian market. To date, Helibras’ helicopters account for 50% of the civil market, 67 percent of the military market, and 80 percent of the para-public market in Brazil. Helibras also carries out customization, maintenance and technical support work on Eurocopter aircraft. Up to 8,000 pilots and technicians have already been trained at its training center.