Russian Helicopters believes that orders of around 50-70 medium helicopters would provide a promising business case for local assembly, given reduced labor costs, and would open the possibility of new supply options for components.
Russian Helicopters' plans mirror those adopted by its European rivals. Indeed, the company already works with AgustaWestland to produce the AW139 medium helicopter in Russia, through the Helivert joint venture. The two companies are also working on a light helicopter program. In Brazil, companies such as Aernnova do Brasil hope that successful production of tail booms for Eurocopter subsidiary Helibras could ultimately result in securing work now done on the EC725 and EC225 heavy helicopter production line in France. Production in Brazil could yield savings of between 10-20%, according to Eurocopter.
Aernnova started building the tail booms in mid-2012 to feed Helibras' newly opened production line for the EC725 helicopter, of which 50 will be built for the Brazilian armed forces. Under Brazilian law, the new aircraft must feature 50% Brazilian content. As a result, Helibras has contracted work on key structures and other major components to local companies. With the production line, Helibras also has the capability to build the civil version of the helicopter, the EC225, allowing Helibras to serve the burgeoning Brazilian oil and gas market. The skills developed through the program will also ultimately allow Helibras to play a role in the development of future products in the Eurocopter stable.
Eurocopter believes this model can work elsewhere, and is offering it to the Polish government as Warsaw seeks options to replace its aging fleet of Mi-8, Mi-14 and Mi-17 transport helicopters. AgustaWestland and Sikorsky already have established mechanisms to offer helicopters to Poland through the purchase of Polish manufacturers PZL-Swidnik and PZL-Mielec.