We get behind the controls of a Magni M16 gyroplane, chat with NASA engineers about the Mars Helicopter, look at Helinet’s firefighting Black Hawk & reflect on the legacy left by Universal Helicopters.
On Sat., March 9, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards joined CEO Andreas Löwenstein of Kopter Group AG and other executives of the company, along with Mayor-President Joel Robideaux of Lafayette; Louisiana, Secretary Don Pierson of Louisiana Economic Development; and other officials to celebrate Kopter’s selection of Lafayette for assembly of its SH09 helicopters.
The ribbon-cutting took place at Kopter’s new site at the Lafayette Regional Airport. It followed a March 5 announcement at Heli-Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, that Lafayette had been selected by Kopter for production and support of its helicopters throughout the Western Hemisphere.
“Louisiana has a rich and storied history in the aerospace sector,” Gov. Edwards said. “From key defense 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.”
“The Lafayette facility will become Kopter’s main hub for the U.S. and the Americas,” Löwenstein said. “It will include a large variety of activities, such as production, customization and assembly of our helicopters, as well as customer services. We expect to gradually hire up to 120 local personnel by 2025 to produce around 100 helicopters per year, and support the growing fleet in the region.”
A significant number of additional jobs will be generated through suppliers. Kopter ultimately will source U.S. supplier parts representing more than 50 percent of the SH09 value. Those suppliers include Honeywell (turboshaft engine), Garmin (avionics), Kaman (composite parts) and others.
“I am incredibly proud that Lafayette was Kopter’s choice for its newest helicopter assembly site,” Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux said. “This announcement comes at a pivotal time as we continue to work on the diversification of our economy. I’m grateful to Mr. Löwenstein for recognizing the opportunity that exists in Lafayette, and to Governor Edwards and Secretary Pierson for working with us at the local level to make this a reality.”
Kopter joins a growing list of active firms in Louisiana’s helicopter sector, including energy leaders Bristow Group, Era Helicopters, PHI Inc. and RLC; and medical air transport leader Metro Aviation.