French company Airbus Helicopters, part of Airbus Group, inaugurated a new factory in Romania, near Brasov, after a EUR 52 million investment.
French President Francois Hollande and Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos were at the inauguration.
“We have a long-standing tradition in aeronautics between France and Romania in Brasov, but the project we have here is higher-scale. We are not talking maintenance and fixing, but producing helicopters, which requires cutting edge technology,” said Francois Hollande.
The French group will produce the two-engine SuperPuma H215 helicopter in the Romanian plant, which will hire about 350 people. The Romanian state has granted a EUR 5 million state aid for this investment project, which should help the country’s aerospace industry.
The strategy presented by Airbus Helicopters includes a cooperation with local companies in the sector, such as state-owned helicopter producer IAR Ghimbav, and private companies Aerostar, Aeroteh, and Turbomecanica, in developing the new model.
Besides the assembly line, the new factory will have a research department, a sales office, and a training center. The Romanian employees will also be sent to France for training.
“The first H215, fully manufactured in Romania, could exit the assembly line in 2018, if there is a first significant order. Production will increase to 15 helicopters per year by 2020,” said Serge Durand, general manager of Airbus Helicopters Industries.
Prime Minister Ciolos said that Romania’s Interior Ministry and Defense Ministry will analyze the possibility to buy several helicopters produced by the new factory.
“This is an investment that benefits the investor as well as Romania because, aside from the investment itself, it puts Romania on the map of international helicopter producers with a new product,” Ciolos said.
The SuperPuma H215 helicopter is equipped with two engines, is economic and robust, and is capable for multiple missions.
The Airbus Helicopters Industries helicopter plant is located in Ghimbav, near Brasov, in central Romania and it covers some 10,000 sqm, which was offered by local producer IAR Ghimbav.
The French company has another factory in Ghimbav which specializes in maintenance and repair work for several types of Airbus helicopters. The unit, which was initially called Eurocopter, was opened in 2002 as a joint venture between Airbus and IAR Ghimbav.
In 2015, Airbus Helicopters Romania had a turnover of EUR 19.6 million and a net profit of EUR 2 million. The company had 160 employees, according to official data from the Finance Ministry.