MARIGNANE, France, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Eurocopter is transforming a production facility in the United States into an assembly plant and final test site for AS350 civil aircraft.
The company said the move is to offset the impact of a reduced production of UH-72A Lakota helicopters for the U.S. military and also to boost U.S. sales of the AS350, used in the law enforcement and emergency medical service markets.
"North America is the largest light helicopter market in the world for Eurocopter, and this new assembly line supports our industrial strategy by manufacturing the preferred AS350 'Made in the USA' in close proximity to our customers," said Joseph Saporito, executive vice president of Eurocopter's Global Supply Chain business. "This decision further supports our investments that have developed reliable and efficient local industrial capabilities in a market with strong expected growth."
The plant is located in Columbus, Miss., and is one of two Eurocopter facilities in the country. Preparations for AS350 assembly and testing at the plant will start almost immediately, with production of the aircraft scheduled to begin late next year.
The Columbus plant will also continue production and retrofit of UH-72A Lakotas for the U.S. Army, U.S. federal agencies and foreign military customers.