New 90 Million Dollar Helicopter Investment in Eskişehir by Alp Aviation
Alp Aviation’s Helicopter Business Centre Facility, established with a $90 million investment in the company’s current Eskişehir facilities, was inaugurated with a ceremony held on October 3. At this ceremony, which was also attended by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, speakers gave important messages concerning the facility’s place within the Turkish defence and aerospace industry. The ceremony was also the setting for the announcement of two new projects, the 10-ton utility helicopter programme and the new ATAK helicopter.
The newly launched facility will initially be used to conduct activities relating to Alp Aviation’s obligations under the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program. This programme, for which the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) is the procuring authority, involves the joint production of 109 T-70 BLACK HAWK helicopters in two configurations. These are required by a total of six users, including the Land Forces Command, Air Force Command, General Command of Gendarmerie, Turkish National Police, General Staff Special Forces Command and the General Directorate of Forestry.
With this new 11,000-square metre facility, which offers production, assembly, testing and support services, all under a single roof, the total enclosed area of the facilities owned by Alp Aviation will reach 50,000 square metres. Moreover, the company will create new employment opportunities for 400 people, in addition to its 800 qualified personnel, 180 of whom are engineers. As a result, the number of workers at Alp Aviation will increase to more than 1,000.
Alp Aviation: Global Supplier of the BLACK HAWK
In parallel with parts production for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program, the facility will concurrently manufacture these same parts for helicopters in the inventories of other countries, including the US. It is planned that the capabilities acquired in this process will be utilised in future national and indigenous aviation projects, as well as in national and international military and civilian programmes.
As part of the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program, Alp Aviation enjoys a business volume of $500 million. The products and systems, for which the company is responsible within the scope of the programme, comprise all the gearboxes (including the main transmission module), gears, flight critical components, tail rotor drive systems (TRDS), main rotor and tail rotor assemblies, flight control systems and landing gear assemblies. The company is the world’s sole supplier of TRDSs.
Alp Aviation: Ready for its Role in the Industry’s Future
The inauguration ceremony for the facility was attended by Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım; Dr. Faruk Özlü, Minister of Science, Industry and Technology; General Atilla Gülan, Commander of the Combatant Air Force; Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, Undersecretary for Defence Industries; Latif Aral Aliş, Chairman of the Board at the Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporters’ Association, as well as many other guests.
Giving the ceremony’s first speech, Tuncer Alpata, Chairman at Alp Aviation, began by describing the company’s past, and then outlined its future: “There are some who describe Turkey as a non-achiever. In the past, this used to be the case, for one reason or another; but nowadays, we’re able to come together [to join forces]. In the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program, we’re ready to work with TEI, ASELSAN and Sikorsky, under the SSM’s coordination and TAI’s leadership. We’ll press forward with the motivation we gain from the support and confidence our leaders, friends and executive are giving us. TAI will construct many helicopters and aircraft, while we’ll be constructing their gearboxes and landing gear.”
Target: Raising Exports from $100 million to $500 million
Alp Aviation ranked 167th in the Turkish Exporters’ Assembly’s 2016 list for Turkey’s Top 500 Exporter Companies. Speaking about the company’s future targets concerning the company’s exports, which currently hover around $100 million per year, Alpata highlighted the importance of their cooperation with Sikorsky: “If you are competing globally in the field of aviation and have a partner like Sikorsky by your side, there is no obstacle you can’t overcome. [Sikorsky] is the world’s largest helicopter company, producing the most reliable and technologically advanced products. It’s a company that’s hungry for technology, open to the future and for further growth; and we’re very fortunate to be its partner. We are very compatible and with the energy they’ve helped to create here, the small changes they’ve made here and there, and the technologies they’ve shared with us, they’ve helped us to cover significant ground. Even today, we calculate that our exports will reach almost $500 million by 2023. And this will be no small feat.”
A Facility that Meets International Standards
Taking the stage after Alpata, Dan Schultz, President of Sikorsky Aircraft, said the following concerning Alp Aviation’s newly-established facility: “In terms of standards this is truly a world-class facility and the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world. Combined with the processes, manufacturing technologies and superior workforce we have here, this facility will continue to produce helicopters and jet components in the future.”
Schultz also said the following, concerning their cooperation with Alp Aviation as part of the programme: “At Sikorsky, we take the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program very seriously. Our sense of responsibility towards the SSM and TAI clearly manifests itself here, today, at this facility. We’ll complete this task on time and within budget. We’ve dedicated ourselves to this programme and the Republic of Turkey, to make sure we produce and launch the world’s best helicopter.”
1.4 Billion Dollar Work Share for Turkish Industry
The last speaker of the ceremony was Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, the Undersecretary for Defence Industries. Sharing information about the Turkish Utility Helicopter Program, which has been the scene of many firsts and ground-breaking achievements in the Turkish defence and aerospace industry, while also mentioning Alp Aviation’s share in all these achievements, Prof. Dr. Demir commented on the programme as follows: “This programme is the first time a Turkish company will design a cockpit for a foreign company. Apart from the United States, marketing and sales will be carried out across the world for these helicopters and the BLACK HAWKS. For the first time, six users will make a common acquisition by consolidating a diverse range of mission requirements. Within the scope of the programme, the production of gears and dynamic systems will be carried out for the first time in the facility we’re inaugurating here today. This programme will also see the production of General Electric’s T700 engine, for the first time in Turkey.”
Prof. Dr. Demir informed that the programme model foresees a 63 percent local industry contribution, and expressed his expectations from the programme schedule with the following words: “While the [helicopters’] date of entry into service has been set as 2021, both the SSM and TAI, as well as all other relevant subcontractors, will do their best to take this date to an earlier time.”
Prof. Dr. Demir also touched on the work share Sikorsky will be providing to the Turkish industry, as part of its programme offset obligations: “For the first time with this programme, Sikorsky has committed to making use of the Turkish domestic industry’s capabilities in its international sales. The sum of this commitment is about $1.4 billion, to be spent over a period of 30 years. TAI and Sikorsky will work in collaboration for the worldwide sales and marketing of the helicopters.”
Dreams from 20 Years Ago Becoming Today’s Reality
Also delivering a speech at the ceremony, Dr. Faruk Özlü, Minister of Science, Industry and Technology shared the following points: “[Turkey’s] companies, engineers and qualified human resources are one of our most significant [assets] for the Turkish industrial revolution. We have reached the capacity where we can manufacture the most advanced technologies in our own country. Targets that seemed unimaginable 15 or 20 years ago are now within our reach. With every passing year, we see more Turkish firms making it into the world’s top defence industry companies. The Turkish defence industry’s superior quality products are drawing a great deal of attention and praise at international exhibitions and in projects. We will continue to support the rapid and sustainable development of the Turkish defence industry. The defence industry will remain one of the strategic areas we most value. The centre we will inaugurate today is one of the most important symbols of the Turkish industry and its production capability.”
Growing Brand Value
Giving the final speech at the ceremony, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım described the Turkish defence and aerospace industry’s leap forward with the following words: “Along with an increasing depth in technology, we’re also allocating significant shares to R&D in the defence and aerospace industry. As of 2016, our defence and aerospace budget has exceeded $1 billion. Fifteen years ago, our defence and aerospace exports were $250 million, while today it has reached $2 billion. While [the industry’s] turnover was once $1 billion, it is now over $6 billion. In 2002, there were only 66 ongoing projects on the defence industry, while today we’re working on 543 projects, the total budget of which is $60 billion.”
Prime Minister Yıldırım also shared information on the draft law regulating the establishment of a Turkish Space Agency, which was presented to the Turkish Grand National Assembly in February: “We decided to establish the Turkish Space Agency as a means to ensuring the country’s development and national security, identifying natural resources, and using these for the prosperity of the people. This decision was submitted to the parliament in the form of a draft law. Insh’Allah, the Turkish Space Agency will be founded during the current legislative year.”
Prime Minister Yıldırım also said the following concerning the inaugurated facility: “The products manufactured here will not be produced solely to meet our own institutions’ needs. These products will, at the same time, meet requirements of many other countries in our region and the rest of the world. We can proudly state that these facilities are the first of their kind in the world. There are no other facilities, anywhere, that combines so many elements in such an integrated fashion. While Eskişehir already enjoys a high brand value, this facility will grant the city a new brand and new value. SMEs and the subsidiary industry will also benefit from this location. It’s not just the personnel working here who will benefit from this facility, but also tens of subsidiary industry companies of different sizes.”
Following his speech, Prime Minister Yıldırım proceeded to officially inaugurate the facility. The event’s guests were then given a tour of the facility, in which they were briefed, on-site, about Alp Aviation’s manufacturing capabilities.
Two Surprises from Prof. Dr. Demir: The 10-Ton Turkish Utility Helicopter and Heavy ATAK
During the ceremony, Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, Undersecretary for Defence Industries, announced the launch of two new helicopter projects with the following words: “Turkey is heading towards producing its own helicopters. As you may already know, we’ve renamed the A129 as T129 when coming up with the ATAK helicopter, and the S-70 as T-70 when coming up with the Turkish Utility Helicopter. These are akin to the steps on a stair – steps on a path leading to Turkey’s very own, indigenously designed helicopter. I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the Helicopter Development Programme is also progressing rather successfully. Furthermore, I would like to add that we’ve started another design project for a utility helicopter – once again in the 10-ton class – and that Sikorsky and other partners may also take part in this project. Last but not least, I would like to announce that we’ve launched the design works for a heavier, more aggressive helicopter that will, in a way, serve as the ATAK helicopter’s stronger brother.”
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