Eurocopter fulfilled an offset obligation with the opening of a 12,000-sq.-meter (129,167-sq.-ft.) factory in Mexico that will supply Airbus commercial jets and its own Ecureil family of light multi-purpose helicopters.
With a factory next door to Canada’s Bombardier, the French-German helicopter maker joins a lineup of U.S. and European aviation prime and supplier manufacturers that have located in Querétaro, where an aeronautical university helps meet their call for a trained workforce.
Eurocopter holds a 50% share of Mexico’s helicopter market since Aerospatiale, a company predecessor, provided the first one to the government in 1964.
The company already operates a pilot and technician training facility, repair and upgrade shop in Mexico City, which opened in 1982.
When Eurocopter won a contract for 15 EC725 helicopters in 2010, the government asked for technology offsets that will provide 200 jobs. The factory has 50 employees now, but expects to reach the full limit by mid-2014, says Eurocopter’s supply chain director, Executive Vice President Joseph Saporito. Eurocopter officials decline to disclose the contract’s value.
Mexico is leading a burgeoning market for helicopters that includes 20 countries in Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America, says President and CEO Lutz Bertling. Eurocopter now has 450 helicopters operating in the region, and last year Mexico alone contributed $500 million of Eurocopter ’s record $8.5 billion in (€6.3 billion) revenues, largely because of deliveries for the 2010 military contract .
The factory’s first products will be cargo and emergency exit doors for the Airbus A320 and A330 programs. Eurocopter is Airbus’ largest door supplier. Both are part of EADS.
First deliveries are expected in the second half of this year.
In late 2014 or early 2015, the new factory will be the sole source supplier of vertical stabilizers and tail cones for the AS350 and other members of the Ecureil family, which is a big seller in the region.