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Gerard hands Eurocopter keys to Spears

COLUMBUS — Mike Spears, who has worked more than 25 years at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Troy, Ala., has been named head of American Eurocopter’s Lakota helicopter production facility in Lowndes County.

Spears succeeds Fred Gerard, who has served as senior director of the Lakota production and retrofit unit since the program’s 2006 inception. Gerard has accepted a position with Airbus in Mobile, Ala.

The Commercial Dispatch reports Spears began as a licensed airframe and power plant mechanic and rose to his most recent position as general manager at Sikorsky.

At Sikorsky, Spears led a team of more than 800 people, producing and delivering H-60 helicopters for the United States Navy. At American Eurocopter, he will oversee repair and modifications for customers in the U.S. and abroad.

Peter Cutler, vice president of government programs for American Eurocopter, said the Lakota has been one of the most successful programs in Army aviation, with more than 260 helicopters delivered to the Army, National Guard and Navy.

The company celebrated the production of its 200th Lakota in March 2012. The aircraft, which take 60 days apiece to complete, are used by U.S. Army, Navy and Army National Guard.

American Eurocopter is a division of EADS North America. The company produces and sells technologically-advanced aircraft ranging from light single engine aircraft to heavy twin engine aircraft. Their headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, Texas.

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