Eurocopter and Tianjin Free Trade Zone ink partnership

Eurocopter AS350 B3eEurocopter and Tianjin Free Trade Zone have signed a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) to explore the creation of a joint-completion and customisation centre for
Eurocopter’s Ecureuil family of light helicopters in Tianjin, China.

Eurocopter will expand in China by setting up the China Completion Centre
in Tianjin,
completing and customising light helicopters from the Eurocopter Ecureuil family
for the Chinese market. This centre will be designed from the start to enable
future growth in accommodating other Eurocopter helicopter types. It is hoped
that the joint venture will be operational in 2013.

The MoU was signed by
Eurocopter President Lutz Bertling and TFTZ President Feng Zhijiang in a ceremony witnessed
by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabaoon. The ceremony coincided with Airbus’ celebration of the 100th A320 assembled in China.
The China Completion Centre will be located adjacent to the Airbus Tianjin
facility to allow for greater synergy within the EADS Group.

“The new Chinese industrial
centre will mark an important step for Eurocopter’s global strategy of being in
close proximity to customers within key markets, while also offering tailored,
flexible solutions adapted to local market requirements,” Bertling said
“Eurocopter pioneered cooperative programs with Chinese partners more than 30
years ago, and we have never stopped our efforts to develop our presence in the
country. Collaboration with Tianjin is a timely
and natural progression, as China’s
general aviation market continues to experience massive growth.”

Bertling noted that with
helicopter demand expected to increase rapidly in the coming years as China relaxes its airspace regulations, the Tianjin initiative would
create a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

Bertling added: “Eurocopter
will be able to ramp up production, our customers can benefit from faster
delivery and prompt services, and the local market will gain an economic boost
while also benefiting from international-standard aviation skills.”

“We are delighted that
Eurocopter has chosen Tianjin to explore the creation of its China Completion
Centre,” said TFTZ president Feng. “With Eurocopter’s expertise and
experience, we will be able to develop a pool of highly qualified aeronautical
talent locally that will undoubtedly boost Tianjin’s development as an aviation
hub.”

The China Completion Centre
will handle the completion and customisation of helicopters in Eurocopter’s
lightweight Ecureuil family. As the first and only helicopter to have
successfully landed atop Mount Everest, the AS350 also is the undisputed
reference helicopter for utility work in China, with a total of 30 currently
operating in the country.

Bruno Boulnois, chief
executive officer of the Eurocopter China subsidiary, said: “This is another
significant commitment by Eurocopter in supporting the Chinese general aviation
sector’s development.”

Boulnous added: “Our
company already has launched many other investments in China, including training of local pilots and
technicians, the setting up of a spare parts hub in Beijing, as well as developing a country-wide
network of support centres.”

Eurocopter has a 40% market
share in the helicopter market in China and has nearly 130 helicopters
in operation in the country. The company opened Eurocopter China in 2006 and has expanded in China with offices in Beijing,
Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu,
Wuhan, Harbin as
well as Hong Kong.

Terry Spruce

Terry is Senior News Editor and writes for both Corporate Jet Investor and Helicopter Investor. He is also responsible for our helicopter guides. Terry has been an aviation enthusiast since the early 1970s. He is a lapsed Private Pilot and ex-Piper Cherokee owner. He has flown a number of light aircraft and is comfortable sitting in the co-pilot's seat or the back of any aircraft. Before moving to journalism he was a banker for 20 years. You can contact him at: terry@corporatejetinvestor.com or follow him on twitter @Terry_Spruce

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