French President Hollande, Romanian PM Ciolos inaugurate helicopter plant in Ghimbav

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French President Francois Hollande and PM Dacian Ciolos have inaugurated on Tuesday the helicopter plant in Ghimbav, Brasov County (central Romania), an important investment for the aeronautic industry in Romania and in France, the media report.

The competition against the cheap helicopters produced by Russia has determined Airbus to build a plant in Romania, as the production costs are lower here against a plant in Western Europe. Most spare parts are to be taken from a neighbouring plant, IAR Ghimbav, instead of importing them from abroad.

At the Airbus Helicopters factory of Ghimbav on Tuesday, President Francois Hollande said the factory is a project of European dimensions able to consolidate Europe’s defence industry.

“This is a project of European dimensions because it is also able to consolidate the defence industry in Europe. This is what we want to do and what I want to recommend at the Bratislava summit in some days’ time. We must cooperate (…) in order to be able to secure the conditions for Europe’s defence policy,” Hollande told a joint news conference with Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, Agerpres informs.

In his turn, Romanian PM Dacian Ciolos said on Tuesday that France’s Airbus investment in Ghimbav, puts the country on the world map of helicopter manufacturers, adding that the Romanian Government might purchase H215 helicopters to be manufactured at Ghimbav.

“To the aerospace industry, the future is built on past experiences. (…) It’s an important investment for Brasov and for the region, worth over EUR 50 million, that creates 350 new jobs, adding to the already existent 150 (…), a beneficial investment for both the company and Romania which puts the country on the world map of helicopter manufacturers with a new product that we also hope to see operated, flying as soon as possible. We’re going to look at the offering really carefully too. It’s a new product. In addition, it has the local maintenance advantage. We are looking at it for the Ministry of Interior, as well as the Ministry of Defence, where there is a need for multipurpose combat helicopters, and, at a later stage, probably military helicopters. We’re looking at this offer and we hope that, just as Dacia Renault has proved competitive, beyond the innovative side of the project on the market, this product proves it competitiveness (…) let’s conquer the global market together, especially the humanitarian intervention market, where this product can be adapted,” Ciolos said at a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande.

The Romanian PM added that the helicopters at Ghimbav will be built from scratch, with some of the parts brought from France and some provided by Romania.

“The intention is to encourage the development of a platform, an aerospace industry hub, starting in Brasov and, of course, by having other companies and enterprises in Romania participate in it (…). We will have a final product, and the manufacturer is not only going to bring its production here, but also, as far as I understand, a research office and a sales department, and also something very important to this company’s future, the training component,” said Ciolos.

According to the Romanian PM, the Airbus Helicopters of Ghimbav should be able to start production at the beginning of 2017, and later in 2017 to put the first H215 helicopter out.

Airbus expects orders from Romania as well, envisaging some ten helicopters produced in Ghimbav in the following period, nevertheless it seems the Romanian leadership envisages only the modernisation of the helicopters already in operation.

The French head of state arrived in Bucharest on Monday night, being welcomed at Henri Coanda Airport by a delegation including the Romanian Ambassador in France, Luca Niculescu.

Hollande is accompanied by 30 French businessmen.

Tuesday morning the French President has laid a wreath of flowers at the Unknown Soldier’s memorial in Carol Park in Bucharest.

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