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April 2008 edition

Factory series: Eurocopter's mind set on making the most of its international 'brains trust'

This month, Airframer reports from Eurocopter's head office at Marignane, France, a location which draws together work carried out at several European sites.

Eurocopter's strength is that it can draw on an expanding manufacturing and assembly "brains trust" of different nationalities and expertise. Its potential weakness is that it has to coordinate input and output from an increasing variety of different countries. This means it has to employ greater organisation and ingenuity than airframers whose more geographically limited base of core activities has the inherent benefit of straightforward streamlining of costs and activities.

However Eurocopter would argue that the logistics involved in widespread diversification is a good problem to have. There is no substitute for a depth and breadth of expertise - and it can call on its "international brigade" to provide wide-ranging input and a melting pot of cost-effective solutions. But the organisation of 'work and profit share' between different countries has to take place simultaneously with the usual airframer dilemmas.

Eurocopter is debating the exact balance it needs to achieve to increase production and develop the supply chain. The additional consideration is that a "local" supply chain and assembly line must be well-placed to service the business in that country. And it needs to satisfy the desire of member countries to augment their national prosperity and jobs pool. But there are 23 different versions of the NH9....

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