Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

EUROCOPTER HAS awarded a structures-manufacturing contract to Turkey's Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI) in a new move to shift elements of its production to low cost suppliers.

Ankara-based TAI, which also produces components for Airtech CN-235s and assembles Turkish air force Lockheed Martin F-16s, is to produce engine cowlings and rear clamshell doors for the German-produced Eurocopter EC135 light helicopter.

Eurocopter said early in 1995 that it aimed to cut its costs by 10% during 1996, as part of its sustained campaign to offset a weak dollar and high local production costs.

The contract follows a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed in September 1995 with Letov in the Czech Republic, opening up the possibility of the company producing EC135 airframe components and, possibly, parts of other Eurocopter aircraft. Letov already produces Airbus A321 components under subcontract from Eurocopter.

The deal has not yet progressed from the MoU stage and, although Eurocopter says that production contracts to the Czech company are not dependent on local orders, insiders suggest that work will only be awarded to Letov with new sales. Eurocopter already has three B0 150s in service with police forces in Prague, and has been focusing on marketing used BO150s and AS350s.

Eurocopter say that its first year's production of EC135s is sold out. "We have more firm orders than we can produce in 1996," says programme director Elmar Compans, adding that he expects to complete 15 helicopters this year. The EC135 is expected to receive certification from French, German and US authorities by the end of May. The first delivery will be in June to Deutsche Rettengsflugwacht, a Stuttgart-based commercial EMS operator.

Source: Flight International