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Airbus Helicopters Celebrates 20 Years Manufacturing in Mississippi

Posted 248 days ago ago by Admin

On  25 Aug. 2023, surrounded by employees, dignitaries, and media, Airbus Helicopters celebrated its 20th anniversary of manufacturing helicopters at its facility in Columbus, Mississippi.

It all began in 2003, when Airbus Helicopters (then Eurocopter) committed to building a manufacturing facility in Columbus, Mississippi, in order to broaden its footprint in North America. By 2004, the location grew from a small facility and seven personnel to 85,000 square feet and 100 personnel when it landed an AS365 Dauphin re-engining contract with the U.S. Coast Guard.

By 2006, the company achieved a major milestone, and solidified the future of the Columbus plant, when it was awarded the contract to produce the UH-72A for the U.S. Army. Since its humble beginnings, the facility today has grown to employ a skilled team of 300+ personnel (35% military veterans) and has completed nearly 1,700 helicopters. The Columbus facility is an important part of the Airbus business picture as it accounts for 20% of the helicopters manufactured by the company globally. The success of the Columbus facility has not only brought the aerospace industry to the region, but significant economic development as well.

“Airbus is, in many ways, the origin story for the success of this region. Airbus’ arrival here helped launch countless other investments that have shaped and improved this community for generations to come,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

The event began with a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the facility in which Airbus dedicated an AS350 helicopter mounted atop a large stanchion to be the outward reflection to the local community of what the facility manufactures. The paint scheme, which includes the U.S. flag, the Mississippi State flag, and “In God We Trust,” was developed through a design contest, which included the plant’s employees.

“Today, 300 employees work in this facility, many of whom are military veterans. I know that they really, really take pride in supporting national security as well as essential workers in air ambulance, firefighters, law enforcement, and search and rescue teams,” said Roman Trapp, president and head of Airbus Helicopters-North America.

Following the aircraft dedication, hundreds of employees and media were taken on a celebratory timeline journey, which included participation from heavy-hitters such as the president of Airbus Helicopters-North America, two Mississippi state governors (current and past), a U.S. senator, and U.S. Army generals.

Immediately following the dignitary remarks and presentation, all attendees were asked to step outside onto the flight line to enjoy a helicopter aerobatics show put on by the world-renown Red Bull helicopter which was piloted by Scott Urschel of Pylon Aviation. Apropos of Mississippi cuisine, following the helicopter aerobatic presentation, the crowd was treated to a lunch of classic southern favorites that included smoked pork, green beans, and mac and cheese and was afforded the opportunity to meet the delegation of dignitaries.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker reflected, “Our purpose is to honor history. To look at 20 years of success in creating jobs and in defending our country, both at home and abroad. But it’s also about looking forward to the next decade, the next 20 years.” Wicker continued, “Ladies and gentlemen, our friends from Airbus, 20 years ago, with the leadership of so many people in this room and people who are not able to be with us, we performed something worthy to be remembered.”

Airbus Helicopters, North American Region Announces New Leadership

During the 20th year celebration of the Columbus, Mississippi, Plant, Romain Trapp, president of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and head of the North America region passionately reflected on his time in his position, then announced that he would be moving into a new role and introduced Bart Reijnen, the new President of Airbus Helicopters Inc.

In this position, Reijnen is responsible for developing and executing the overall company strategy in the U.S. and Canadian helicopter market, managing the company’s resources and meeting key performance objectives. He will oversee more than 1,100 Airbus Helicopters employees in the region, at the U.S. headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas, center of excellence for aircraft assembly and customization in Columbus, Mississippi, and Canadian headquarters in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Reijnen previously served as CEO of Satair, an Airbus services company, since 1 November 2016. In May 2021, he took on the additional role of head of material services in Airbus Customer Services, which included Airbus ́ Flight Hour Services activities.

Prior to joining Satair, Reijnen led On-Orbit Services and Exploration activities within Airbus Defence and Space and was Head of the Bremen Site in Germany since February 2013. Before working for Airbus Defence and Space in Bremen, Reijnen was CEO of Dutch Space (now Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands). Previously, over the course of a 10-year period, Reijnen held different positions at Airbus Corporate Headquarters and Airbus Commercial.

Reijnen has a master's degree in Aerospace Engineering from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Department of Flight Dynamics, Stability & Control and Simulation. He is married and father to two daughters.

Bart succeeds Romain Trapp who held the role since 2019. Romain now serves as executive vice president of Customer Support & Services for Airbus Helicopters and is a member of the Airbus Helicopters Executive Committee.


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