March 12, 2019
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and Kopter Group’s CEO Andreas Löwenstein have announced that Kopter will establish a new production facility for its SH09 helicopter in Lafayette, Louisiana.
The Swiss OEM will lease a 84,700 sq ft facility from the Lafayette Airport Commission, which owns the helicopter assembly buildings. This future production and support centre comes in addition to the existing and soon-to-be-expanded Kopter sites in Switzerland, and will serve customers throughout the Americas. It is planned that it will source parts from US suppliers, representing more than 50 per cent of the SH09’s value.
The State of Louisiana initially funded construction of the $25.3 million Lafayette facility on a 14.7 acre airport site. Kopter plans to make an additional capital investment in new equipment and building extensions. It will start hiring personnel later this year and prepare operations by mid 2020. Deliveries of locally assembled helicopters will start in 2021. Kopter intends to create at least 120 new direct jobs by 2025 in Lafayette, while production should ramp up to an anticipated volume of around 100 SH09s per year.
“We chose the Lafayette site for several reasons,” says Löwenstein. “Firstly, Louisiana is a rapidly growing and attractive region and already hosts several key helicopter operators and many industrial players. Secondly, the site offers easy access to a qualified workforce and a high-quality educational environment. And thirdly, we chose it for the facility itself, which meets the highest standards and allows almost instant operations. Its location on the airport provides an ideal production environment, with quick and easy logistics and commercial access.”
Governor Edwards adds: “The SH09 helicopter will be highly competitive in the marketplace and provide outstanding performance, great passenger and cargo capacity, and superior engineering and design. Kopter could have chosen any location in North America to assemble this new helicopter. Louisiana’s outstanding workforce and facility assets, and our competitive business climate, make Lafayette the clear choice for Kopter’s future in the Americas.”
Along with Lafayette council officials, Edwards joined Löwenstein and other Kopter executives to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Lafayette Regional airport site. There, Edwards noted that: “Louisiana has a rich and storied history in the aerospace sector. From key defence installations like Barksdale Air Force Base in northwest Louisiana and the Naval Air Station at Belle Chasse to industrial aviation employers at Chennault International airport and our leadership role in space missions at NASA's Michoud assembly facility, we have proven ourselves as a state of innovation in the flight sector. Kopter Group's selection of Lafayette for one of the world's most advanced helicopter production projects secures an even stronger position for Louisiana in the aerospace industry. We welcome Kopter to Acadiana and look forward to the positive momentum this project creates for Louisiana.”
Kopter joins a growing list of companies active in the helicopter sector in Louisiana, including offshore operators Bristow Group, Era Helicopters, RLC and Metro Aviation. Kopter formed its fully-owned US subsidiary Kopter North America in July 2018, with Christian Gras as CEO and Larry Roberts as president of sales, marketing and customer support.
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