Feature story UH-145 deliveries will begin this November for the Army's Light Utility Helicopter requirement

June 30, 2006 - The UH-145's win of the U.S. Army's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) competition has initiated a fast-paced program that calls for deliveries of this rotary-wing aircraft beginning in November.

EADS North American Chairman & CEO Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. said the UH-145 industrial team is ready to meet LUH delivery timing, with first two helicopters scheduled for handover to the U.S. Army before the end of 2006.

"We can respond to the Army's requirements because our UH-145 is a missionized version of the commercial EC145 helicopter - which is in full-scale production for operators in the U.S. and worldwide," Crosby explained. "The first UH-145 currently is being built, and components already have been allocated for the manufacture of seven more aircraft.

American Eurocopter’s 92,200-sq-ft. facility at Columbus, Mississippi will be significantly expanded to handle UH-145 assembly and delivery activity.

UH-145 production and assembly will be centered at American Eurocopter's state-of-the-art facility in Columbus, Mississippi. This 92,200-sq-ft. plant currently builds A-Star AS350 helicopters, and it also handles assembly and customization of other American Eurocopter helicopter models for U.S. customers - including EC120Bs for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The initial UH-145s will be built on Eurocopter's existing EC145 production line in Donauworth, Germany, and shipped to Columbus for final assembly and completion. American Eurocopter will significantly expand its Mississippi facility, enabling sub-assembly of UH-145s shipped from Germany in a first phase, followed by full build-up of the aircraft on a new assembly line beginning in August, 2007.

Employment at American Eurocopter's Columbus site will grow from the current staffing of 129 to approximately 330, while 20-40 additional jobs will be added at the company's headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas for program support.

Suppliers from across the United States also are gearing up for the LUH program. As an example, Turbomeca USA - which builds the UH-145's Arriel 1E2 engines - is growing the size of its Grand Prairie, Texas facility to create additional production capacity necessary for the UH-145 - generating 35-45 new jobs directly related to the LUH program.

Another UH-145 supplier, Thales USA, will transfer production of its Meghas® avionics suite from Europe to a new facility in Irvine, California. Meghas also equips the Eurocopter EC145, EC135, EC155, EC120, EC130 and AS350 helicopters, and the manufacturing of avionics for all these aircraft types, as well as the UH-145, will be performed in Irvine.

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