A consortium of Chinese companies has signed a purchase contract for 100 Airbus Helicopters H135 rotorcraft, setting the stage for the type to be assembled in China.

The contract follows a letter of intent signed last year with Qingdao-based Sino-German Ecopark, where a final assembly line for the H135 will be established, says Airbus Helicopters in a statement.

The consortium signing for the 100 helicopters is comprised of China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS), Qingdao United General Aviation Industrial Development, and Citic Offshore Helicopter.

The €700 million ($789 million) contract was signed in the presence of Chinese premier Li Keqiang and German chancellor Angela Merkel, who is on a state visit to China.

The final assembly line is expected to start operations by 2018.

“We are extremely pleased with the progress of this partnership between Airbus Helicopters and our Chinese partners,” says Norbert Ducrot, head of Airbus Helicopters in China and North Asia.

“With the further opening up of the Chinese skies and the increasing growth in the civil and parapublic segments, China is gearing up to be the biggest market for helicopters in years to come. With their inherent versatility and reliability, these 100 H135s will be best suited to meet the soaring demand in China.”

Source: FlightGlobal.com