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(LEAD) Airbus to relocate helicopter production line to S. Korea: ministry

Industry 18:31 September 18, 2020

(ATTN: CHANGES headline; ADDS ministry and KAI comments in paras 4-5)

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- Airbus SE, Europe's giant aircraft maker, will shift one of its helicopter production lines to South Korea by 2021, Seoul's transport ministry said Friday.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said it signed a pact with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to support relocation of Airbus' helicopter assembly line.

Airbus will transfer its EC155B1 helicopter production line in Marseille, France, to South Korea's sole aircraft manufacturing facility operated by Korea Aerospace Industries Co. (KAI) in Sacheon, 440 kilometers south of Seoul, by next year, a ministry official said over the phone.

"Airbus and KAI will set up a joint company within this year in South Korea to manage the production and delivery of the EC155B1 helicopters," the official said.

KAI and Airbus are jointly developing the light civil helicopter and the light armed helicopter based on the EC155B1 platform to replace aging choppers in the Army, a KAI spokeswoman said.

The ministry said the partnership with the European aviation watchdog includes support of helicopter production and test flights.

The two sides also agreed to join forces for the urban air mobility sector, including drones, and seek ways to support air transport businesses amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This photo, provided by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Sept. 18, 2020, shows Kim Sang-do (L), who heads aviation policy at the ministry, and Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, holding an agreement that supports relocation of Airbus SE's helicopter assembly line to South Korea. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr
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