STRATFORD, Conn., Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Sikorsky Aircraft today announced it has expanded its support of the Colombia Armed Forces BLACK HAWK helicopter fleet by opening an office in Bogota, Colombia. In addition, Sikorsky will open South America's first BLACK HAWK helicopter training center in Melgar, Colombia, in early 2013. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
The new office will employ 10 people and provide the Colombian Ministry of Defense with a central, in-country point of contact for managing all aspects of business with Sikorsky including aftermarket support, program management, and administrative requirements. Sikorsky Areospace Services, the aftermarket business of Sikorsky Aircraft, already operates a Service Depot in Tolemaida, Colombia.
"Colombia is a longtime strategic customer and valued partner," said Mick Maurer, President, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. "Our continued investments in support services exemplify Sikorsky's solid commitment to enhance the Ministry of Defense and the Colombian Armed Forces' fleet availability and operational readiness. We remain dedicated to providing strong support directly where our customers operate."
Colombia purchased its first BLACK HAWK helicopter in 1987 when the Air Force procured aircraft via the U.S. Government's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channel. Ten years later, the Colombian Army acquired its own BLACK HAWK fleet. The National Federal Police followed suit by procuring its first six aircraft in 1999. Today, Colombia operates nearly 100 BLACK HAWK helicopters – the world's fourth-largest BLACK HAWK fleet and the largest procured to date through the FMS system. These aircraft perform a variety of missions including search and rescue, medical evacuation, disaster relief, anti-drug, and counter-insurgency operations.
Sikorsky also continues to work on completion of a state-of-the-art BLACK HAWK helicopter training facility in Melgar. Scheduled to open in early 2013, it will be South America's first BLACK HAWK flight training center and will feature the region's only full motion, high fidelity, FAA Level D Equivalent BLACK HAWK simulator. The center will provide pilot and flight crew training for the Colombian Armed Services and Sikorsky military customers throughout Latin America.
Earlier this year, Sikorsky announced the expansion of its existing maintenance contract that doubles the size of the in-country maintenance support team for the Colombian Army UH-60 BLACK HAWK fleet. The Colombian Army Aviation – part of the army's Combined Arms Team – has acquired Scheduled and Unscheduled Maintenance Services for its fleet of UH-60 helicopters to ensure sustained support for operations mandated by the Colombian Army. Forty-two Sikorsky-trained technicians perform Phase Maintenance Inspections and 120-hour inspections at the Aviation Maintenance Base in Tolemaida. The contract is renewable annually.
Additionally, a team of five Sikorsky-trained technicians perform depot airframe repairs at the Tolemaida base. The capability to provide in-country depot maintenance significantly minimizes operating costs and aircraft downtime by eliminating the need to transport aircraft back to Sikorsky facilities in the U.S.
"We understand the importance of the Colombian Armed Services' need to maintain their fleet at optimal mission readiness. Our goal is to provide the needed OEM support expertise and capabilities directly where our customers operate," said Frank DiPasquale, Vice President, Sales and Strategic Relationships of Sikorsky Aerospace Services, Sikorsky's aftermarket business, which is overseeing the efforts in Colombia.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. Sikorsky Aerospace Services provides comprehensive support to rotary and fixed wing aircraft throughout the world. It offers its military and commercial operators a full portfolio of support services, including material distribution, maintenance, overhaul & repair, aircraft modifications and life-cycle support. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
SOURCE Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.