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An Airbus H145 arrives at HAI Heli-Expo 2024 in Anaheim, California, ready to be delivered to Hillsboro Aviation for firefighting duties. Brent Bundy Photo

Airbus adds H145 final assembly line in U.S. to meet booming demand

By Oliver Johnson | February 27, 2024

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 42 seconds.

Airbus Helicopters has created a new final assembly line (FAL) for its H145 light twin at its facility in Colombus, Mississippi, with the first American-made example of the type set to roll off the line imminently.

Speaking to Vertical on the eve of HAI Heli-Expo 2024 in Anaheim, California, Bart Reijnen, president of Airbus Helicopters, Inc. and head of the North America region for the manufacturer, said the decision was driven by the scale of demand for the type.

“It has been a record year for the 145 globally — and for North America, you could say every second booking we made last year was for a twin engine aircraft [H135 or H145],” he said.

“Now we start ramping up production for commercial deliveries to U.S. customers and that’s a further step in terms of increasing our footprint in the U.S., but also increasing proximity to our customers in North America.”

The facility in Colombus is already home to a FAL for the H125 AStar, and was the production site of 480 UH-72 Lakotas — the military version of the EC145 produced for the U.S. Army.

Columbus was previously home to the final assembly line for the UH-72 Lakota. Dianne Bond Photo
Columbus was previously home to the final assembly line for the UH-72 Lakota. Dianne Bond Photo

Reijnen said the H145 production stations have required a little reorganization and some tweaks to the process from the Lakota, “but in general, it’s the same setup.”

The production line capabilities will also mirror those of the existing — and main — H145 FAL in Donauworth, Germany, with aircraft tailored for air medical, law enforcement, VIP, or utility operations.

“That is an important statement, because it also demonstrates that the corporate sites in Europe have really understood the knowledge, the competences, the credibility of what the Mississippi team has been setting up over the past two decades,” said Reijnen.

“This is of course built on very strong trust between the European team and the U.S. team that we are able to do this.”

Many of the workers who previously worked on Lakota production — and have subsequently moved to other areas — will be returning to the H145 FAL for commercial production, he said.

The company is currently targeting a production rate of 16 H145s a year in Columbus, and hopes to hit that figure by 2025.

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