Eurocopter made several announcements at Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA), including the production rollout of Royal Malaysian Air Force's first EC725 transport helicopter.

"We wanted to share this on-time milestone with Malaysia, providing attendees at LIMA 2011 with an initial look at the newest helicopter that will service the country in a variety of operations," said company CEO and president Lutz Berling.

The rollout was timed to coincide with the visit of Malaysia's prime minister to the Eurocopter stand at the show. In 2010, Malaysia ordered 12 EC725s to perform in the utility and search-and-rescue roles. Deliveries will commence in 2012 and continue through early 2014.

The EC725 deal included 13 strategic cooperation projects, such as the integration of Malaysia into Eurocopter's supply chain and joint ventures to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work in Malaysia.

Another major initiative announced by Eurocopter is the planned development of a helicopter centre at Subang in conjunction with Malaysia Airports Holdings. The centre will open in 2012 and offer MRO facilities, a heliport and a parking hanger.

Eurocopter also announced a letter of agreement with Malaysia's BHIC Defence Technologies to develop a regional flight simulator centre for the EC225 and EC725 helicopters in Malaysia. The simulators will be located at the new helicopter centre at Subang. The partnership stems from the July 2011 offset plan for the RMAF's 12 EC725s.

Eurocopter also sold two EC225s for offshore operations. MHS Aviation ordered its sixth EC225 with the aircraft to be delivered in 2014. Another helicopter firm, Awan Inspirasi, also ordered an EC225 for offshore operations.

Finally, Eurocopter signed an agreement with Malaysian firm CTRM, which will build the fenestron (ducted tail fan) of the EC130. Under the CTRM agreement, Eurocopter will help the company develop helicopter systems integration competencies.

Eurocopter added that following LIMA it remains the market leader in Malaysia, with a market share of 54% for civil and paramilitary helicopters.

On the military front, the Eurocopter Tiger was the only dedicated attack helicopter to appear at LIMA. It performed a daily aerial display and appeared in the static park. Malaysia is known to have a long-running requirement for an attack helicopter, but has yet to issue a formal request for proposal.

Source: Flight International