Georges Durdilly, Airbus Head of Country Romania: “As for every industrial company, business viability is essential”

de Raúl Sánchez Costa
Joi, 3 decembrie 2020, 15:10 English | Business

Georges Durdilly
Foto: Airbus Helicopters
“As for every industrial company, business viability is essential. This explains the 16 helicopters order needed to move forward”, affirms to Georges Durdilly, Airbus Head of Country Romania, who remarks “it would also be an important message that Romania, as a host country, is the launching customer and has trust in a product that will be, after all, produced locally – made in Romania”.

INTERVIEW: Georges DURDILLY, Airbus Head of Country Romania, Managing Director Airbus Helicopters Romania

What are the main hurdles which stop the Government from ordering at least 16 helicopters?

Georges Durdilly: This is a question for the Government, so you might consider addressing them for an opinion. Nonetheless, we restate our position as an open dialogue partner for Romania, as we have been for the last 50 years.

Do you maintain the offer to assemble IAR-H215M helicopter at Ghimbav?

Georges Durdilly: We maintain confidence in being able to launch production in Ghimbav for the new IAR-H215M helicopter, a project we have started in 2016 when we inaugurated the new factory.

Of course, our offer remains on the table, as we continue to believe that we can create together in Ghimbav a sustainable aeronautic platform, providing jobs and contributing to the development of the area. IAR Ghimbav, our historical partner, produced over 360 helicopters under Airbus license and now we can turn a new page of our 50 years cooperation and produce together the IAR-H215M helicopter. This is a modern, multirole, medium-heavy military helicopter which addresses Romanian Armed Forces’ needs.

What do you consider to do if the Romanian Government decides to procure helicopters from another company?

Georges Durdilly: Obviously we are not at that point. I’d rather focus on the good things achieved so far by Airbus and its Romanian partners. We have a solid relation, spanning over half of century, with our main partner IAR. Two years ago we formalized our relation for the next 15 years by signing an exclusive partnership contract for any order we might receive from the Romanian Ministry of Defense for the IAR-H215M helicopter. Our commitment went even further with the creation of ARIE – the Romanian Helicopter Industry Association, together with top players from the Romanian aeronautical industry - IAR, Turbomecanica, Aeroteh, Aerofina and Comoti.
But Airbus’ presence in Romania goes beyond helicopters. At Ghimbav there is also Premium Aerotec, fully owned by Airbus, with its factory providing components for Airbus aircraft all over the world. All Airbus planes have actually embedded parts produced in Ghimbav. Also in Romania we have Airbus Defence and Space division, based in Bucharest, an engineering and service providing hub for the full spectrum of the Airbus Defence and Space products and service portfolio.

In my view, the quality equipment, the availability, the right calibre of equipment at the right time is of paramount importance for soldiers on the battlefield. The acquisition of specialized military equipment should encompass firstly all the right equipment for the needs of the Romanian military, secondly produce jobs locally and thirdly—to be produced and supported with a trusted, allied partner. Airbus fulfills all of these requirements with its H215M type helicopter.

Fitted with appropriate equipment, H215M has competitive operating and maintenance costs, and the ability to be easily deployed and armed for ground attack and support missions: tactical transport, utility, casualty evacuation, search and rescue (SAR) and combat search and rescue (CSAR), fire support.

Everything is also matter of ambition: with the project, jointly brought by IAR/Airbus Helicopters, Romania can re-integrate in the select club of helicopters manufacturers with all the associated positive effects: social, educational, business for several Romanian companies, and with a long term perspective.

What does Airbus need from the Government to launch helicopter production in Brasov?

Georges Durdilly: As for every industrial company, business viability is essential. This explains the 16 helicopters order needed to move forward. It’s not a magic number; this volume of the order would allow us to launch the process which should lead to the technology transfer, staff instruction and assembly process.
It would also be an important message that Romania, as a host country, is the launching customer and has trust in a product that will be, after all, produced locally – made in Romania.
It is in the country’s best interest to invest in projects that produce local jobs, this should be encouraged, especially in challenging times like these.

Do you think that US pressures the Government to favour US companies?

Georges Durdilly: If you are referring to the Government of the United States, I am in no position of replying. Obviously Romania is attractive to big companies, given its EU and NATO membership, the skilled labour force, its huge creative resources and desire to grow.

What I can say is that we have always seen competition as a sign of a healthy economy and also as a motivation for us and our products to keep getting better. This is why Airbus is the world's leading helicopter manufacturer after all.

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