Eurocopter Expands EC135 Manufacturing Into Switzerland and Spain

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Eurocopter, which says its order book for the EC 135 has reached more than 550 units, said it has executed agreements in Switzerland and Spain for new helicopters, agreeing to set up assembly lines in the two countries. The agreement with Switzerland calls for 18 EC635s plus two EC135s for the Armed Forces while Spain wants 48 EC135 law-enforcement helicopters. Beginning in 2007, Swiss company RUAG will assemble 16 of the 18 EC635s while final assembly of Spain's EC135 order will take place at Eurocopter’s newly established Albacete facility. Eurocopter says its new facility in Spain recognizes the large Spanish law-enforcement requirement and further sales potential in that country. Meanwhile, the company added that substantial upgrades to the EC135, including an increase in takeoff weight to 6,415 lbs. -- up from 5,694 lbs. -- were granted EASA certification on Feb. 21, 2006. Deliveries of the upgraded version, designated the EC 135 T2i or P2i, will start in late September 2006.

The takeoff weight increase is complemented by a reduction of empty weight, resulting in a useful load increase of 176 lbs. The useful load for IFR-equipped aircraft is up by even more: 198 lbs. In addition, Eurocopter has further reduced direct maintenance costs of the EC135, which the company says now offers the lowest maintenance cost of all twins presently in production. The 50-hours and 100-hours checks were eliminated. The inspection interval for the Fenestron® tail rotor has been raised from 1,200 hours/3 years to 1,600 hours/3 years. The interval for the 800-hours inspection has been raised from every two to every three years. Today, an EC 135 is required to have its first inspection at 400 flight hours – unrivalled in its class. The company said it also achieved the record of 100 percent on-time and on-quality deliveries for the EC 135.