EKE will also have a regional role across Central Asia in providing helicopter maintenance and training, says Delaunay. The maintenance center within the factory has the capacity to handle both scheduled and non-scheduled maintenance for 90 helicopters, he notes.
“Kazakhstan is seen as a strategic country for the EADS group,” says Delaunay, who helped establish the EADS Kazakhstan office in 2010. Prior to that, he worked for a French company involved in Kazakhstan's mining industry.
The fact that Kazakhstan is rich in natural resources and covers an enormous geographic area—it is the world's largest landlocked nation—means it is the wealthiest Central Asian country. And Delaunay characterizes it as an economic gateway into Central Asia.
“The EC145 sold from the joint venture is at the same quality level as those imported from Europe, but due to the fact that the helicopter is assembled in Kazakhstan, the EC145 will benefit from tax incentives,” he says.
In addition to Eurocopter, EADS's military and space businesses are also benefiting from doing business with Kazakhstan. The government has signed a memorandum of understanding for eight Airbus Military C295 transports, says Delaunay, adding that the first two have been turned into a firm orders and will be delivered by year-end to the Kazakh air force.
And EADS Astrium has a contract to supply two Earth-observation satellites to Kazakhstan's space agency Kazcosmos, says the agency's chairman, Talgat Musabayev. Space technology is another industry that the government wants to develop locally, he says.
In order to fulfill Kazcosmos's requirement for transfer of technology and know-how, Astrium has established Ghalam, a joint-venture with Kazcosmos subsidiary Kazakstan Garysh Sapary, that will assemble and perform systems integration and testing of satellites at a purpose-built facility in Astana. Kazakhstan Garysh Sapary is also building a space center that will operate the country's satellites in orbit. Astrium is providing some equipment and technology for the center.
Delaunay also notes that working with Western countries is facilitated by the fact that many of Kazakhstan's elite have been educated in the West. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan's government implemented “Bolashak,” an all-expenses paid scholarship program that sends top students overseas to study at the best Western universities. The proviso is that after graduation, they return and work in Kazakhstan for at least five years.
Leithen Francis Astana, Kazakhstan