Thursday, January 1, 2015

Colombian City to Manufacture Parts for Black Hawk Helicopters


DOSQUEBRADAS, Colombia – Manufacturers in Dosquebradas, a city in eastern Colombia, are producing parts and spare parts for military aircraft, including the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, competing in a market traditionally dominated by U.S. and European contractors.

Three years ago, the Dosquebradas Chamber of Commerce created an aeronautics cluster that now has contracts with the Colombian air force and is looking to expand into the civilian aviation market.

With some 200,000 residents, Dosquebradas is the second-largest city in Risaralda province, and “it has a strong technological capacity to produce parts for aircraft,” John Jaime Jimenez, chairman of the chamber, told Colombia.inn, an Efe-operated news agency.

Some 14 companies in the region identified potential demand and began developing parts for Black Hawk helicopters and airplanes, such as the Kfir and Cessna Caravan.

Local industries already manufacture 34 of the 17,000 pieces in the Black Hawk military helicopter, including parts for the tail rotor and brakes, fuel tanks, valves and special lids.

“We have produced small metal parts, safety seals, landing gear filters and assorted special pieces in titanium and aluminum,” Jimenez said, adding that sometimes aircraft were grounded for lack of replacement parts.

The air force has 32 U.S.-made Black Hawks, called the Arpia in Colombia, while the army has about 70 and the National Police operates seven of the helicopters.

Colombia’s air force has 24 Israeli-made Kfir fighter-bombers.

Colombia imports about 4 trillion pesos ($1.67 billion) of aircraft parts each year, and the Dosquebradas Chamber of Commerce sees an opportunity to boost Risaralda’s economy.

The chamber currently works with 30 additional companies developing and designing parts.

“With this aeronautical cluster, Colombia proves it has the potential, the capability, the expertise, the knowledge, the machines and a series of supplies enabling us to be a country offering those parts and replacements,” Jimenez said.

Aircraft parts made in Risaralda are not exported yet, but the Colombian companies are exploring markets and preparing for the certification process.

The goal is that by 2020-2025 the region can become the main parts supplier for the Colombian air force.

That would double the 6,500 jobs currently generated by the metal and mechanics sector, which accounts for 8 percent of the province’s gross domestic product and the second most valued exports after coffee.


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