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Forging a partnership to produce helicopters in Chester County

COATESVILLE — Sen. Bob Casey was on hand, Tuesday, to help celebrate the strategic collaboration between helicopter builders Piasecki Aircraft Corp. and Columbia Helicopters.

Helicopter modifications and testing will take place at Piasecki’s 219,000-square-foot plant, site of Lockheed Martin’s former Sikorsky helicopter facility, at 110 E. Stewart Huston Dr.

Hundreds of high-skilled jobs were lost in March of 2023 when Sikorsky shuttered the facility. About 200 jobs are expected to be created in Coatesville and almost that many in Oregon.

Sen. Bob Casey is excited about the creation of about 200 Coatesville skilled jobs. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWS GROUP)
Sen. Bob Casey is excited about the creation of about 200 Coatesville skilled jobs. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

Casey was ecstatic.

“Two hundred jobs is a damn good number,” the senator said. “It isn’t just an innovative company, with a highly skilled workforce.

“It’s a family. I’m grateful for all those jobs.”

Columbia Helicopters CEO and President David Balevic talks about working together with Piasecki Aircraft, in Coatesville. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWS GROUP)
Columbia Helicopters CEO and President David Balevic talks about working together with Piasecki Aircraft, in Coatesville. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

Casey talked about Chester County and America’s “genius” workforce.

“American workers are the most skilled workers in the world,” he said.

Casey noted that U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-6th Dist.) helped.

More than 150 well-wishers gathered in a Coatesville hangar to celebrate a new relationship. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWSGROUP)
More than 150 well-wishers gathered in a Coatesville hangar to celebrate a new relationship. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWSGROUP)

“This is what we should be doing — investing in our workforce,” he said. “We will continue to advocate for years.”

The collaboration brings together Piasecki, a global leader in advanced vertical take-off and landing development and Columbia, producer of the world’s leading commercial tandem rotor helicopters.

John Piasecki, of Piasecki Aircraft celebrates a new beginning. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWS GROUP)
John Piasecki, of Piasecki Aircraft celebrates a new beginning. (BILL RETTEW/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

“The collaboration aims to upgrade existing Model 107-II helicopters to the new, more fuel-efficient, powerful and reliable Columbia Model CHI-107-III configuration,” the event program stated.

About 100 older tandem rotor helicopters still exist. They can lift more than conventional helicopters, for customers in essential services such as emergency response, aerial firefighting, forestry, infrastructure and defense.

The two-engine tandem rotor configuration was invented by Piasecki’s original production company, Vertol, and sold to Boeing in 1960. Columbia acquired the Model 107-II Type Certificate from Boeing in 2006.

For more than 80 years, Piasecki has worked with design, development, fabrication and testing of rotary wing aircraft.

Testing will take place in Coatesville at the Heliplex, which will serve as a field site to expand opportunities on the East Coast. Columbia has engaged the FAA to obtain certification for the 107-III helicopter.

Piasecki President and CEO John Piasecki spoke to more than 150 well-wishers inside the large hangar packed with static rotary aircraft.

“We turn problems into solutions,” he said about the company. “We’ve proved to the world the ability to do great things.”

David Balevic is president and CEO of Columbia Helicopters.

He introduced a short film presentation that highlighted the partnership’s primary goals of saving lives, protecting nations and building industries.

Chester County Commissioner Marian Moskowitz worked hard to bring back jobs.

“In the county we are so excited,” Moskowitz said. “This amazing partnership and what this helicopter will do is great for the world.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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