Eurocopter expands partnership with UTair

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Eurocopter has expanded its partnership with Russia's largest commercial helicopter operator UTair. The companies have signed a memorandum of agreement to jointly develop a flight training centre in Tyumen, west Siberia.

The school is scheduled to open early in 2010 and will provide training on Eurocopter helicopter types for Russia-based flightcrews.

Eurocopter and UTair joined forces in 2008 to create an integrated technical maintenance centre in Tyumen to support the Eurocopter fleet in Russia. The facility is near completion and is expected to begin operations by the end of the year.

UTair operates a growing fleet of around 200 helicopters, including 118 Mil Mi-8s - which are being replaced by Mi-171s - a Eurocopter AS355N, two AS350B3s and four Bo105s. UTair is developing with Eurocopter the corporate interior of the EC175 for which it is the launch customer with 15 of the medium twin types on order and options for 15 more.

Meanwhile, Eurocopter has clinched an order from China's transport ministry for another two EC225s, following up on a 2007 order for two EC225s that went to the China Rescue and Salvage Bureau. The helicopters will be delivered in 2011, and used for search and rescue missions.