Airbus Helicopters is to open a new production line for the H145 at its facility in Columbus, Mississippi sized to build up to 16 of the light-twins each year.

At present the airframer manufactures the H145 in Donauworth, Germany but with demand for the type soaring it is seeking to boost capacity within its industrial set up and double output by 2026.


Source: Airbus Helicopters

Mississippi site will build civil H145s for North American market

Detailing the move at a Heli-Expo press conference on 27 February, Bart Reijnen, chief executive of US subsidiary Airbus Helicopters Inc, said the H145 is “selling like crazy”, with 186 orders for the type booked in 2023.

Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters chief, says the move helps to address the company’s “ambition to double [H145] production over the next three years” and to “build local for local”.

Assembly of the H145 at Columbus is already up and running with an initial example of the five-bladed D3 model ready to roll off the line for delivery to Broward County Sheriffs Office in Florida.

Reijnen says the plant will be capable of building up to 16 helicopters per year from 2025, although cautions that is a “capacity readiness” figure rather than a delivery forecast.

Minor modifications to line were required – moving from three assembly stations to four – to enable the planned output, he says.

“What we see here is a strong view that that Airbus Helicopters needs to optimise its industrial production system globally,” he says.

H145s built in Columbus will be destined for North American customers, although the facility could also be used to assemble helicopters for the international market if required.

UH-72B-c-Airbus Helicopters

Source: Airbus Helicopters

UH-72 Lakotas for US Army are also built at the Columbus site

Reijnen says the decision to open the new line was taken “based on the capabilities that Columbus has demonstrated with the [UH-72] Lakota” – an earlier variant of the H145 for the US Army that was built at the Mississippi site.

Over 480 examples of the utility helicopter have now been delivered from the plant since production started in 2007, he notes.

The Columbus site remains capable of assembling the B model of the UH-72 – based on the latest five-bladed variant – but Reijnen says any additional Lakota production would come on top of its plans for civil H145.

Airbus Helicopters already builds H125s in Columbus, producing around a dozen examples each year.