Sagem has signed an intention to proceed (ITP) agreement with Helibras to manufacture autopilot systems for the Brazilian Armed Forces' AS365 Panther helicopters.
Under the agreement the company's wholly-owned subsidiary, Optovac will manufacture and deliver 30 autopilot systems, which form part of the helicopter's automatic flight control system, along with the attitude and heading reference system and various actuators.
The Sao Jose dos Campos-based company will also manufacture flight controls for Panther and EC725 Caracal helicopters, as well as offering support capabilities.
In December 2009, Helibras received a R$347m ($147.6m) contract to upgrade 34 Brazilian Army Aviation AS365K Panther helicopters to the K2 version, also known as the Super Panther, to ensure that the aircraft remain operational for another 25 years.
As part of Panther K2 upgrade, the helicopter has been fitted with new Arriel 2C2CG engines that deliver 40% more power, new engine fairings, a new glass cockpit with a four-axis autopilot, new wiring and a cable-cutting device.
Additional equipment includes night-vision goggles, a new altimeter and weather radar, advanced navigation and communication radios, as well as a new tail rotor, providing the helicopters with greater range, increased speed and reduced pilot workload.
Capable of carrying two pilots and ten soldiers, the Panther K2 helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 4,300kg, and a top speed of 175k.
Helibras has also received a €1.9bn contract to deliver 50 EC725 helicopters to Brazil as part of Helicopter-Experimental, Brazil (H-XBR) project.
Of the total 50 helicopters, Brazilian Army, Air Force and Navy will receive 16 helicopters each, while the remaining two aircraft will be operated by the government.
Image: An AS365 Panther helicopter in flight. Photo: copyright Airbus.