RIO DE JANEIRO — Helicopter-maker Eurocopter wants its Brazilian affiliate Helibras to develop and build aircraft for export to the world by 2025, the company’s CEO said in an interview published Jan. 25.
“In 2023 or 2025 we will begin to have models designed in Brazil, built in the country and that will be sold on the world market,” Lutz Bertling said in the interview with the business daily Valor.
Currently, Eurocopter helicopters are designed in Europe. A Brazilian factory in Itajuba, Minas Gerais, only assembles Ecureuils helicopters.
Brazil is the only country in the BRICS group of emerging powers — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — that does not have a helicopter industry, said Bertling. Eurocopter, a subsidiary of the European aeronautics giant EADS and the world’s top manufacturer of civilian helicopters, “wants to become the national helicopter maker of Brazil,” said Bertling.
The company has invested 186 million euros ($241 million) in a new factory at Itajuba, which is scheduled to open in February or March and begin production by mid-year.
The expansion was part of a 2008 contract to sell 50 EC725 helicopters to the Brazilian military, which calls for the first 16 to be built in France and the rest in Brazil.
Eurocopter sees a promising future in the Brazilian market and is pursuing some big deals, according to Valor.
The Brazilian police have announced plans to buy 100 helicopters and the private sector demand is expected to rise with the country hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“Even without big events, Brazil is one of the helicopter markets with the fastest growth in the world,” said Bertling.
Eurocopter announced Jan. 24 in Paris sales of 5.4 billion euros ($7 billion) in 2011, up 12.5 percent over the previous year.