Eurocopter and Turbomeca (Safran) announced the signature of industrial cooperation agreements with Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze 1 (WZL 1) that include the creation of two separate full assembly lines within Poland for the EC725 Caracal helicopter and its Makila 2 turboshaft engines in the framework of this country’s acquisition of 70 new multi-role helicopters.
The agreement brings together the resources of rotorcraft manufacturer Eurocopter, engine manufacturer Turbomeca and WZL1, ensuring a comprehensive in-country industrial work package that also includes training for locally-hired workers, along with a comprehensive maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capability that will last far beyond the duration of the contract itself – and potentially be open to future export contracts.
This builds on the long-term approach of Eurocopter and its parent company EADS to cooperatively develop Poland’s aviation capabilities, led by EADS’ 2001 acquisition of PZL Warsawa-Okecie – the country’s longest-established aviation manufacturer. The long-standing strategy is strengthened by Eurocopter’s supply of more than 50 helicopters to Polish operators – including 23 EC135s for Poland’s LPR (Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe) in a modernization of the country’s nationwide emergency medical services network, making it one of the most modern in Europe. This cooperation has set the standard for a governmental operator transitioning from a Soviet-era rotorcraft type to a modern Western helicopter.
“As the world’s leading helicopter manufacturer, Eurocopter will offer the solution best suited to meet Poland’s operational mission requirements with the EC725 Caracal – which has proven its reliability and efficiency on many battlefields,” said Olivier Lambert, Eurocopter’s Senior Vice President for Sales and Customer Relations. “We are now positioned to provide an unmatched industrial commitment that continues a proven track record with manufacturers and operators around the world. The cooperation also exemplifies another step in the expansion of the European defense industry.”
Maxime Faribault, Turbomeca’s Vice President of Airframers Sales, added: “Turbomeca’s partnership strategy is based on the Makila engine, benefitting from a proven experience in harsh environments, and on our strong cooperation know-how. The extensive involvement of WZL within the manufacturing of the engines and their MRO support will create a long-term cooperation based on cutting-edge technologies and the sharing of technical know-how and expertise. We are fully confident in the success of this cooperative agreement.”
“Our strategy is the development in aviation activities particularly within state’s security and defence, but not only. The implementation of a new helicopter platform is one of our priorities covering possibly wide range of activities meaning its production, overhaul and servicing. Signing of the agreement, here, today, with Eurocopter is one of the steps of this strategy. This task is extremely important for our company’s future which depends on it. It also gives many possibilities to other companies in Lodz region” – said Mr. Jan Piętowski, the President of Military Aviation Works No. 1 J.S.C.
The EC725 Caracal is a modern, multi-role 11-metric-ton-class helicopter designed for armed operations, troop transport, rescue duties and logistics support. Equipped with a five-blade main rotor system and the latest in avionics and systems, it carries up to 29 passengers in addition to the flight crew. Flight endurance is 5.5 hours with the helicopter’s impressive fuel capacity.
As a rotorcraft of choice for military forces worldwide, current EC725 Caracal customers range from France, Brazil and Mexico to Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Its capabilities were validated by EC725 combat deployments with French forces in Afghanistan and in supporting France’s role during NATO-led operations for the Libyan military campaign and Mali. Deployed in the most challenging theatres of operations, the EC725 Caracal is today the only heavy, single platform, modern and combat proven helicopter on the market able to perform the widest range of missions.