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Fri, Apr 30, 2010

Eurocopter Embarks On A 'Major Investment Program'

New Products And Services Financed Through "Transformation" Of The Company

In series of moves it says is in answer to the world economic crisis, as well as the evolution of the helicopter market, Eurocopter has decided to accelerate its SHAPE improvement program. The company intends to invest  more than $1.7 billion in self-funded Research & Development between 2010 and 2014, after having doubled its annual self-funded R & D budget in the past three years.

The company said in a news release that these investments will fund new helicopter programs and an enhanced worldwide support and services offer. On the same period Eurocopter plans to spend in addition $1.3 billion in various investments to sustain the company's competitiveness and to continue expanding its worldwide presence and extending top-quality customer support and services around the globe. This considerable investment is expected to generate a need for about 400 additional positions in France and Germany for engineers and technicians over the next years.

Eurocopter's transformation program SHAPE was launched in October 2009 across the Group to ensure a profitable, competitive and sustainable future for the company as the world leader in the helicopter industry. It is based on 6 modules: Invest, Save, Improve, Simplify, People and Engagement, Accompany our Customers.

Facing a slow recovery of the civil helicopter market and an increasingly challenging competitive environment, Eurocopter has decided to intensify and accelerate the SHAPE improvement program. Eurocopter Group President and CEO Lutz Bertling (right) said: "Our SHAPE program is all about investing in customer solutions that will strengthen our competitive position, improving our processes, and creating a better, leaner organization. This transformation plan is vital for Eurocopter to ensure its leadership in the helicopter marketplace." The opening of a new, integrated engineering-center is planned for 2012 at Eurocopter's Donauworth, Germany, facility. Donauworth thus will become Eurocopter's German Helicopter System House for development, production and support of civil and military helicopters, integrating activities today located at Donauworth and Ottobrunn and thus generating additional synergies.

Eurocopter is additionally studying a relocation of its Rotorblade factory and sales activities based at La Courneuve to a new site at Le Bourget Airport, depending on conditions granted by French authorities.

Along with various programs already implemented with the goal of improving Eurocopter's efficiency - such as reducing inventories - new initiatives will be put in place, including an optimized span of control for managers within the entire company and the reduction of layers of management, in order to develop empowerment and speed-up decision processes. A major reduction of cost in supporting functions, aiming at a $265 million annual saving, will be accompanied by the redundancy of 400 positions in total in France and Germany. The company will try to redeploy the corresponding employees, whenever possible, to operational functions within Eurocopter or inside the EADS group. Additionally, voluntary departure schemes will be offered up to April 2011, in cases where redeployment will not be feasible.

These initiatives will be discussed with the various employee representatives within the spirit and the long tradition of open social dialog that characterizes Eurocopter.

FMI: www.eurocopter.com

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