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Joint program to upgrade Columbia Model 107-II helicopter to new and improved Model 107-III configuration; Coatesville Heliplex selected as development site

Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC), a global leader in the development of advanced vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, and Columbia Helicopters (CHI), the world’s leading OEM, MRO and operator of tandem rotor helicopters, today announced a strategic collaboration to deliver modernized heavy-lift helicopters worldwide.

The collaboration will upgrade existing Model 107-II helicopters to a new, more fuel efficient, higher performing and more robust Columbia Model CHI-107-III configuration. This partnership supports customers in critical areas such as emergency response, aerial firefighting, forestry, infrastructure and defense. The military variant of the Model 107-II is the CH-46E Sea Knight (Phrog), which has served with the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy, as well as allies in Sweden and Japan.

Modifications and testing will take place at Piasecki’s 219,000-square-foot Heliplex facility in Coatesville, Pennsylvania – which was acquired by Lockheed Martin Sikorsky in 2023 after the site’s S-76 and S-92 helicopter production lines were closed and hundreds of jobs were lost. Piasecki’s acquisition of the facility was supported by Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Governor Josh Shapiro and the Chester County Economic Development Council to create new jobs that leverage the region’s unique aerospace capabilities.

“For generations, Pennsylvanians have served their country and fed their families by manufacturing military helicopters at this Coatesville plant. I fought to support Piasecki’s helicopter restoration because no one is better suited to the task of maintaining our nation’s military aircraft than the workers here in southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Senator Casey in a separate announcement. “This is a new chapter for Coatesville and I will continue to fight to keep these jobs.”

“Piasecki, with its state-of-the-art manufacturing and robust tech workforce, is a driving force for revitalization in Coatesville,” said Representative Houlahan in a separate announcement. “With the announcement of CH-46 helicopter production and the creation of additional jobs, our region will continue to lead the way in domestic aircraft manufacturing. I look forward to seeing Piasecki grow and will continue to do everything I can to support that.”

The heliplex will also serve as CHI’s new operating base, expanding its East Coast capabilities. The partnership includes the development of comprehensive product support plans for Columbia’s CHI-107-III model – including the establishment of an FAA Part 145 repair station at the facility.

“We are very pleased to partner with Columbia Helicopters, a company that shares our heritage in tandem helicopter construction and is equally committed to innovation and excellence in the helicopter industry,” said John Piasecki, CEO of Piasecki Aircraft. “This collaboration represents a significant advancement in the development of tandem rotor helicopters and promises enhanced capabilities for a wide range of military and civilian applications. We look forward to working together to advance the future of this vertical lift technology and create hundreds of jobs for our communities.”

“The new Columbia Model 107-III will transform the heavy-lift helicopter market and provide our customers with unmatched performance and versatility,” said David Balevic, CEO of Columbia Helicopters“We are committed to pushing the boundaries of what is possible and, together with our partners at Piasecki, will deliver enhanced heavy-lift aircraft that save lives, protect nations and build industries for decades to come.”

About Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC)

Piasecki is an award-winning vertical take-off and landing aircraft developer. The company specializes in the design, manufacture and flight testing of experimental rotorcraft and unmanned aerial vehicles and has developed and flown more than 25 advanced VTOL and UAV aircraft to date. Customers include the U.S. Air Force Research Lab and AFWERX, the U.S. Army Futures Command Aviation and Missile Center and Medical R&D Command, NAVAIR, DARPA and SOCOM, and leading OEMs such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Piasecki has received numerous awards including the Presidential National Medal of Technology, the Smithsonian Air & Space Achievement Award and the prestigious Tibbitts Award for Small Business Innovation from the U.S. Department of Defense. PiAC has been a proud member of the Vertical Flight Society for more than 50 years. For more information, visit piasecki.com.

About Columbia Helicopters (CHI)

Columbia Helicopters is the world’s leading provider of heavy-lift helicopters and a trusted expert in maintenance, repair and overhaul services. With over 65 years of experience and international operations, often operating in remote, challenging conditions, Columbia provides safe and reliable aircraft and skilled personnel to meet demanding global transportation requirements. Columbia leverages its position as an OEM and FAA type certificate holder for the Model 234 Chinook and 107-II helicopters to provide responsive modification, lifecycle support and MRO services trusted by a diverse customer base worldwide. For more information, visit www.colheli.com.

Source: Piasecki Aircraft