IAR has signed an agreement with Eurocopter International for licensed production of the French Ecureuil light helicopter in Romania.The deal, due to come into force following approval from the respective Governments, covers airframe manufacture and final assembly of 80 single-engined AS350BA Ecureuils and twin-engined AS355N Ecureuil 2s.

IAR will also perform airframe maintenance, overhaul and repair. An initial batch of 40 aircraft will be produced between 1996 and 2001, and the remainder from 2001.

The deal is being financed by French banks, which are to supply Fr90 million ($17 million) a year to the Romanian firm over ten years.

The helicopters are aimed primarily at Romania's civil and public-service market, in transport, patrol, medical and rescue roles. Eurocopter will also co-operate with IAR in exporting the aircraft.

According to Eurocopter, the agreement ". . . marks a new stage in a 25-year long record of fruitful co-operation" between the partners. IAR previously built 230 SA316B (IAR-316B) Alouette IIIs under licence from Eurocopter partner Aerospatiale, and still licence-produces SA330 (IAR-330L) Pumas.

Source: Flight International