LONDON — is reformulating its plans to launch helicopter assembly in Brazil following the termination of negotiations concerning potential co-production with earlier this year.
The company is now considering going it alone with its Brazilian subsidiary, AgustaWestland Do Brasil, which announced at the Labace business aviation show in Sao Paulo on Aug. 14 that it is planning a major expansion of its facilities in the city, which the company says will include maintenance hangars with space that could accommodate a helicopter final assembly line.
The company is also adding a training center, warehouse, workshops and other supporting services including a dedicated heliport. Construction of the new facility is set to be completed by late 2014.
“This new larger facility will enable us to grow our industrial presence and to potentially assemble helicopters in Brazil, demonstrating our long-term commitment to the region and our customers,” said AgustaWestland CEO Daniele Romiti.
AgustaWestland has long had ambitions to build helicopters in Brazil, and it is following in the footsteps of its European competitor, majority owner of Helibras, which produces AS350 Ecureuil light helicopters and the EC725 Caracal utility helicopter for the Brazilian armed services.
AgustaWestland had signed a memorandum of understanding with Brazilian aerospace and defense company Embraer at the beginning of the year to explore production of the AW139 and AW189 helicopters to help support Brazil’s rapidly expanding oil and gas sector. The two companies announced in April that they were terminating the negotiations, but did not say why.
Assembly in Brazil is an essential requirement if AgustaWestland wants to be successful in both the country’s military and the oil and gas market. Current national legislation demands that any defense procurement worth more than $5 million must have domestic content of around 50%.
At the same time, state-owned energy company Petrobras looks more favorably at contractors that make use of Brazilian-sourced products.