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Bumper year for Airbus Helicopters in the US and Canada
Airbus Helicopters North America in Grand Prairie, Texas is celebrating half a century of ops just as its Fort Erie, Ontario operation notches up 35 years. It has also broken ground on a new training centre with Helisim.
Airbus Helicopters head of training Laurent Vautherin, VP of customer support Anthony Baker, Helisim MD Jean Charles de Troy, Grand Prairie mayor Ron Jenson, Airbus Helicopters president Chris Emerson and Helisim president Christian Cochini.

Airbus Helicopters North America is celebrating two milestone anniversaries this year: Airbus Helicopters, Inc., based in Grand Prairie, Texas, is celebrating 50 years of sales and support for US helicopter operators, while Airbus Helicopters Canada Ltd., located in Fort Erie, Ontario, is marking its 35 year milestone.

“For 50 years, our customers and the local communities in which we are based have relied on us as a strong partner for advancing the aviation industry in North America,” says head of region Chris Emerson. “This represents 50 years of experience, expertise, customer experience, innovation and technology; a strong foundation that has secured our leadership position today and that will prepare us for success in the next 50 years.”

Airbus Helicopters' operations began in the US in 1969 with the establishment of Vought Helicopter in Texas, which France’s Aerospatiale took over in 1974. The company opened the doors to its current facilities in Grand Prairie in 1980. Airbus Helicopters Canada traces its roots to MBB Helicopter Canada, founded in 1984 in Fort Erie, after successful negotiations between MBB Helicopters, Fleet Aerospace and the Canadian and Ontario governments.

The US and Canadian companies were renamed American Eurocopter Corporation and Eurocopter Canada with the merger of the helicopter divisions of Aerospatiale and MBB as Eurocopter Group in 1992. In 2003, American Eurocopter opened production facilities in Columbus, Mississippi, and in 2004, Eurocopter Canada expanded its presence in Fort Erie, Ontario and Richmond, British Columbia.

After a series of product development, sales and delivery milestones, the two companies took on the Airbus branding in 2014 and now comprise a regional organisation, Airbus Helicopters North America, providing sales, maintenance and training services to more than 700 customers operating nearly 2,600 aircraft. It will be celebrating the milestone anniversaries with events and campaigns throughout the year.

Airbus Helicopters has also broken ground with Helisim on a new helicopter pilot and maintenance crew training centre in Grand Prairie, Texas. With an initial investment of $40 million, the Helisim Simulation Center will provide introductory and recurrent training to flight crews. The first stage of the new facility is scheduled for completion later this year when the first new Thales Reality H Level D full-motion flight simulator will be delivered.

Helisim, a joint venture of Thales and Airbus Helicopters and a global leader in helicopter training, will develop and operate the simulation centre. The centre will house the first Level D full-motion flight simulators in North America for Airbus H145 and H175 helicopters, which are now entering service in the Americas.

Airbus Helicopters builds some of the most innovative helicopters on the market today,” says VP of customer support Anthony Baker. “The North American training centre will meet our customers' needs for exceptional training on those aircraft. This training centre will advance safety for the thousands of men and women who operate and fly in our helicopters every day.”

Helisim, which is based in Marseille in France, brings 18 years of experience in simulation training for Airbus Helicopters aircraft. “We are committed to improving flight safety across our industry through simulator-based training," says CEO Christian Cochini. “By working closely with Airbus Helicopters and Thales, we will now be able to provide unparalleled training solutions to North American customers."

The centre will also incorporate the existing training facilities of Airbus Helicopters, including its H125/AS350 full flight simulator and H135/H145 flight training device. Additionally, the North American training centre will expand to include an H160 simulator, once that helicopter model is certified and production is under way.

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