ALMATY, JAN. 24 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering, a headline joint-venture set up in 2011 between Kazakhstan Engineering National Company and France’s Airbus Helicopters, has stopped manufacturing helicopters because of the economic slowdown, its CEO, Timur Tilinin, said in an interview with the pro-government Astana Times newspaper.
The company was licensed to manufacture the Eurocopter 145, a twin engine utility helicopter that can be used as passenger transport or for search and rescue missions. It can carry up to nine passengers and two crew.
Mr Tilinin said that Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering was the backbone of the Kazakh aviation industry and that it had manufactured 26 Eurocopter 145s since 2011, eight for the ministry of defence and 18 for the ministry of interior’s emergency service.
“Unfortunately, due to the (economic) crisis we halted the project,” he said. “In mid-2015, ECKE launched a transformation plan to move from pure manufacturing to, first, becoming the distributor of Airbus helicopters in all Central Asia and, second, performing maintenance of the aircraft. We do the maintenance of all the helicopters we have produced.”
Moving from manufacturing helicopters to being a distributor service centre will dent the prestige of the project. It also underlines just how heavily Kazakhstan has been hit by the economic downturn.
Government agencies, Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering’s only clients, have been hard hit.
Part of the distribution process involves reassembling helicopters which are manufactured in Germany and then dismantled for export.
Kazakhstan is striving to broaden out its industrial base away from oil and gas.
Copyright ©The Conway Bulletin — all rights reserved
(News report from Issue No. 314, published on Jan. 27 2017)