A Brazilian-French cooperation agreement in the military aerospace sector has just been signed between the ministries of Defense of Brazil and France, which should allow Brazil to start producing large helicopters in the near future.
This accord should simplify the production of French aircraft in the South American country.
The announcement was made during the ceremony for celebration of the Helibrás 30th anniversary, in Itajubá, in the southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, where the company that will make the helicopters is located.
The firm belongs to Eurocopter, a subsidiary of EADS – the same European consortium that controls Airbus -, to the government of the state of Minas Gerais and to private Brazilian group Bueninvest.
According to figures supplied by the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, the idea is for the large aircraft to be produced by Helibrás itself, which already makes smaller French helicopters. For this, the company is going to build a new assembly line.
To Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who participated in the ceremony, the new enterprise is going to supply not just the Armed Forces, but also other strategic sectors of the Brazilian economy, like the exploration of oil in sea platforms. Brazil already has important participation in the aircraft market through Embraer.
According to the Brazilian minister of Defense, Nelson Jobim, the expectation is for the country's Armed Forces to purchase 50 helicopters for the transport of personnel. He declared that the defense sector has been prioritizing technology transfer, therefore the agreement with France, which was signed by Jobim and by French ambassador Antoine Pouillieute.
After the announcement, French newspaper La Tribune published an article showing that EADS could expand its participation in Helibrás, acquiring part of the share capital of Bueninvest and becoming the controller of the business.
Last year, Helibrás had record revenues of US$ 92 million with the sale of 25 service aircraft.