(Rio de Janeiro, December 23, 2008) -- Following the EU-Brazil summit, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil officially announced the contract for 50 EC725 helicopters which has been signed by the Brazilian government and a consortium formed by Eurocopter and Helibras. The helicopters will be operated by Brazil's armed forces and the first deliveries are scheduled for 2010. This is the largest contract ever signed in South America and will provide Brazil with a fleet that is capable of performing an extremely wide range of missions. The contract will also allow Eurocopter to continue its expansion in South America.
"This is an important achievement for Eurocopter, Helibras and the Brazilian government," announced Eurocopter President Lutz Bertling. "This contract is the result of the close industrial partnership and the long-standing relationship that we have with Brazil, and we are particularly proud that the EC725s will be produced in this country. This contract heralds a new era for Helibras, which will become an outstanding center of aeronautical excellence in South America."
Louis Gallois, CEO of EADS, Eurocopter's mother company, added:"EADS considers Brazil as a priority country in its long term partnership strategy. Our group has been developing its different activities there for many years: Airbus, ATR, military transport aircraft, space and security equipments. This major contract is fully in line with our strategy".
This historic contract is part of the joint declaration on defense cooperation signed by the French and Brazilian defense secretaries on June 30, 2008 - a date which also marked the 30th anniversary of Helibras.
Eurocopter has been in Brazil for more than 30 years through its subsidiary Helibras located in Itajuba in the state of Minas Gerais. Helibras employs 270 people and is the only helicopter manufacturer with an established presence in South America. In 30 years, Helibras has delivered almost 500 aircraft, becoming the leader in the Brazilian market.
The new contract will double the production capacity and the number of staff at the Itajuba plant, where the EC725 helicopters will be manufactured, assembled and undergo maintenance support activities after delivery.
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