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Kopter Group AG Plans Lafayette, Louisiana, Assembly Plant

03/06/2019
Kopter Group AG, the Switzerland-based helicopter manufacturer, will assemble its new SH09 helicopter in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The company plans to make a $4.2 million capital investment in new equipment and building additions at the Lafayette site. Kopter will lease an 84,700-square-foot facility from the Lafayette Regional Airport, which owns the state-of-the-art helicopter assembly building on airport property beside the Evangeline Thruway (U.S. Highway 90).

In Louisiana, the Kopter Production and Product Support Center will deliver SH09 models throughout the Western Hemisphere and source parts representing at least 50 percent of aircraft value from U.S. suppliers.

“We’re delighted that Kopter chose Louisiana and Lafayette for the assembly of a dynamic new aerospace product,” Governor Jon Bel Edwards said. “The SH09 helicopter will be highly competitive in the marketplace and provide outstanding performance, great passenger and cargo capacity, and superior engineering and design. Kopter could have chosen any location in the Western Hemisphere to assemble this new helicopter. Louisiana’s outstanding workforce and facility assets, and our competitive business climate, make Lafayette the clear choice for Kopter’s future in the Americas.”

Founded in 2007 to deliver a new generation of turbine helicopters, Kopter designed the SH09 with large cabin and cargo volumes, next-generation electronic systems, and technical specifications that meet the most demanding missions. Kopter is assembling helicopters for the European market in Switzerland, with plans to add a third assembly facility in Asia.

“Kopter Group chose the Lafayette site for several reasons,” CEO Andreas Löwenstein said. “First, because of Louisiana, which is a rapidly growing and attractive region, already hosting several key helicopter operators and many industrial players. Second, for the easy access to a qualified workforce and a high-quality educational environment. And third, for the facility itself, which meets the highest standards and allows almost instant operations. Its location on the airport provides an ideal operational environment, with quick and easy logistics and commercial access.”

The State of Louisiana funded construction of the $25.3 million facility on a 14.7-acre airport site, which the company will lease from the Lafayette Airport Commission. The company will begin initial hiring later this year, and formal helicopter deliveries will start in 2021. Production will ramp up to an anticipated volume of 100 helicopters by 2025.

“It took a lot of hard work by Governor Edwards, Louisiana Economic Development, Lafayette Airport Commission and airport staff to make this partnership a reality in a very short time,” said Chairman Paul Segura of the Lafayette Airport Commission. “Lafayette just gained a major international opportunity housed at our airport, and this means good things for our economic future.”

LED began formal discussions about the project with Kopter in October 2018. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the company a competitive incentive package that includes a pair of performance-based grants: one of $1.2 million for facility modifications, payable at $200,000 in 2019 and $1 million in 2020; and one of $1.3 million for lease support, payable in five annual installments from 2020 through 2024.

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