The Wall Street Journal
By Robert Wall
June 13, 2016 3:09 a.m. ET
LONDON— Airbus Group SE will set up helicopter final assembly in China as part of a deal to sell 100 light twin-engine choppers in the country.
The deal completes a letter of intent signed last year for an order valued at €700 million ($788 million), Airbus said in a statement Monday.
The deal is a boost for Airbus’s helicopter business which has been hit by a downturn in the oil and gas market, one of the most lucrative segments for commercial helicopter sales.
The April crash of a Super Puma helicopter, in which all 13 people on board died, has also cast a shadow over the aircraft-maker’s chopper unit. European regulators this month have idled the fleet amid uncertainty why the helicopter operated by CHC Group Ltd. crashed.
The Chinese deal was signed during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to China.
“China is gearing up to be the biggest market for helicopters in years to come, ” with strong growth in government services and civil applications of such machines, said Norbert Ducrot, Airbus Helicopters’s boss in China and for the North Asia region. Airbus said it expected expansion of offshore wind farms in China’s power industry to inflate demand for helicopters.
Airbus said a consortium of China Aviation Supplies Holding Co., Qingdao United General Aviation Industrial Development Co. and CITIC Offshore Helicopter Co. have made the order for 100 H135 helicopters.
Delivery of the ordered helicopters are due to stretch over a decade.
The new assembly facility is due to begin operations in Qingdao in China’s Shandong province in 2018. It will be Airbus Helicopters fourth final-assembly line outside of France and Germany. Helicopters are assembled in the U.S., Brazil and, from next year, in Romania.
Original article can be found here: http://www.wsj.com