By Staff Writer | March 3, 2015
HAI Heli-Expo 2015 Orlando, Fla. – The first Airbus Helicopters AS350 AStar helicopter completely assembled in the U.S. has received airworthiness certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and will soon begin completion for delivery. The AS350 B3e rolled off the Airbus Helicopters Inc. final assembly line in Columbus, Miss. at the end of December, meeting a schedule set nearly two years ago when the decision was made to establish a U.S. final assembly line for the best-selling single-engine helicopter.
“The top selling, high performance single-engine turbine helicopter is now a U.S. Citizen,” said Marc Paganini, President and CEO of Airbus Helicopters Inc. “Airbus Helicopters has demonstrated its strong commitment to better serving our U.S. customers by establishing the AS350 final assembly line in Columbus.”
The Columbus plant is set up to produce 30 AStars in 2015 and 60 or more in 2016 and beyond. The AStar is the top selling aircraft in its class and a favorite of law enforcement agencies, air medical service providers and utility operators. The AS350 B3e has high cruise speed, range and high altitude capability. Its spacious cabin and modern safety features, including energy-attenuating seats and a Vehicle and Engine Multifunction Display, make the AStar an industry leader.
Airbus Helicopters announced in 2013 that it would set up an AS350 assembly line in Columbus. The production line is patterned after the one at the Airbus Helicopters plant in Marignane, France. Twenty employees from Columbus received training in Marignane.
Airbus Helicopters Inc. opened the plant in Northeastern Mississippi in 2005 for light assembly of AS350 kits, with more than 300 helicopters produced and delivered. In 2007 the size of the facility was expanded to 331,000 square feet and a final assembly line installed to produce the UH-72A Lakota helicopter for the U.S. Army. To date the plant has produced more than 330 Lakotas on time, on budget and meeting the Army’s strict quality standards. The plant employs about 250 workers, nearly half of whom are U.S. armed forces veterans.
“Our teams in Mississippi have done a superb job of producing the Lakota for the Army and will continue putting their expertise to work building the highest quality helicopters for the civil market in the U.S.,” said Paganini.
For more information on Airbus Helicopters AS350 AStars and other industry leading products, stop by Airbus Helicopters Booth #2437 at Heli-Expo 2015 in Orlando, Fla.