COLUMBUS, Miss. — American Eurocopter has changed its name to Airbus Helicopters Inc. and will begin manufacturing a new commercial helicopter in Columbus.
The plant in Columbus has manufactured the Lakota used primarily by the military. Officials say the plant will now produce up to 60 AStar helicopters per year. The AStar is used by the military, various law enforcement and rescue organizations around the country and commercial businesses.
“The plant here in Columbus has been in charge of Lakota. Our next step, which has been decided, is the production of the AStar; the very successful, helicopter AStar here in Columbus, Miss. We will produce up to 60 helicopters per year in the plant here and this is a major decision for the group,” said Guillaume Faury, Airbus president and CEO.
Production on the AStar could begin as early as September. There are 280 employees at the Columbus plant.
“It’s pretty clear that Airbus helicopters, since we arrived, has led the way on much of the economic growth that’s taken place. When we came here originally in 2001, there was nothing out at this airport. Today, you look around. There’s Severstal, there’s PACCAR, Stark Aerospace, Aurora. We led the way. We had some insight on what this place could mean, what it could give us and what it could provide and the quality of the labor force. And I think that’s proven itself,” said Sam Adcock, general manager of Mississippi Airbus Helicopters.