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DALLAS-American Eurocopter will move in next week to 81,620 sf in the AirFreight & LogisticsCentre, a 35-acre park on ground-leased land at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The 15-year deal is the outcome of a $2-billion contract with the US Army.

American Eurocopter plans to retain its 52-acre headquarters and main facility at 2701 Forum Dr. in Grand Prairie. The inbound tenant is the American subsidiary of the world’s largest helicopter manufacturer and EADS North America, the world’s second-largest aerospace and defense company. And, the new Army contract is underwriting the expansion, both in Texas and Columbus, MS, where the manufacturer has a 40-acre production facility.

American Eurocopter announced Aug. 29 that it received authorization to produce two more rotary-wing helicopters for military and civilian use. The EC145 model is becoming the aircraft of choice for medical airlift, law enforcement and corporate users while the UH-72A Lakota is the US Army’s new light-utility helicopter. The first Lakota delivered at the Columbus facility in late August.

The Army contract calls for up to 322 Lakotas over 10 years to supply a special fleet for use primarily in the states by US Homeland Security, medical evacuations, passengers/logistics transport and drug interdiction missions. Many are destined for Army National Guard units, which will be retiring older helicopters and freeing up larger rotary wings for reassignment, according to American Eurocopter’s press release.

The three-year-old Columbus facility, abutting the Golden Triangle Regional Airport, is being expanded to 325,000 sf from 92,000 sf and the workforce boosted to about 330 employees from about 50. There are two buildings under construction.

“This is a great opportunity for the airport in that a leading aircraft manufacturing company has elected to set up a 15-year facility for light assembly of parts and components for helicopters,” says Steven D. Bradford, principal and leader of Trammell Crow Co.’s airport development initiative.

Bradford negotiated on TCC’s behalf while Toby Rogers, vice president, with CB Richard Ellis in Dallas, represented American Eurocopter in its nine-month search of the Great Southwest Industrial District, on-airport facilities and north of the airport. Bradford says the lease was signed earlier this summer and kept under wraps during build-out, which reserved 3,500 sf for office space and the balance for assembly and distribution.

“It is bigger than a real estate deal because it goes to the core of the economic engine of cargo at the airport,” Bradford tells GlobeSt.com. The new lease bumps occupancy to 100% in the 116,145-sf AirFreight & LogisticsCentre 1 at 2370 W. Airfield Dr., one of four spec buildings delivering last December. The building’s remaining space is filled by Peabody, MA-based Air General Inc., with 21,385 sf, and Elite Mailing Group of Dallas, 13,500 sf. American Eurocopter’s new location has direct airfield access and Foreign Trade Zone status.

“It’s one of those companies that’s kind of a feather in Trammell Crow’s cap and DFW. This is a broader impact than just a lease deal,” John Terrell, vice president of commercial development for D/FW airport, says in an interview. “The fact that they are on the airport is good for us and Eurocopter. They saw us as having a strategic location and other benefits that put them at that spot.”

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