The United Arab Emirates is set for its first aircraft manufacturing deal following the acquisition of a small Ukrainian helicopter company by Dubai-based Perla Group International.
"I went to buy a helicopter and came back owning the company," says Perla's founder and chief executive Charles D'Alberto.
Perla completed the acquisition of Poltava, Ukraine-based DB Aerocopter this week and D'Alberto, whose company has interests in telecommunications, aviation and security, says that he plans to move assembly of its two-seat helicopter to Dubai fed by components supplied from Ukraine.
This would be a ground-breaking development for the region, as there is currently no local manufacturing of complete aircraft here.
"We're in discussions. The most likely location will be Aviation City," he says.
DB Aerocopter first produced its two-seat helicopter around 10 years ago. The latest AK1-3 version arrived in 2007 and around 90 of the piston-engined helicopters have been delivered. Key markets include France, Russia/CIS and South Africa.
According to D'Alberto, DB has already sold 130 AK1-3s for delivery in 2010 and is in talks to sell 200 to Brazil. Although the AK1-3 is certificated only in the CIS, D'Alberto says that it complies with European JAR requirements. "We're looking to get US certification," he adds.
The AK1-3, which is powered by a four-cylinder Subaru petrol engine, retails for $200,000, which D'Alberto claims undercuts the similar Robinson R22 by around $100,000.
For the longer term, D'Alberto told Flight Daily News that DB is working on a five-seat turbine helicopter that is likely to have a Rolls-Royce powerplant. "This project is at the CAD drawing phase, but we need more funds to proceed."