In a surprise announcement yesterday at the Farnborough airshow, AgustaWestland unveiled its newest helicopter–the medium twin AW169. Nestling between the GrandNew and AW139 in the company’s line-up, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210-powered AW169 is aimed primarily at the government, parapublic and commercial markets, offering an eight- to 10-seat cabin that can be rapidly reconfigured for a variety of roles.
Helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland is here at the Farnborough airshow with three new aircraft: the civil GrandNew and the military AW159 Lynx Wildcat and AW149. All made their first flights during the last 12 months, although flight testing for the development of the Grand derivative is believed to have started two years ago.
The Sikorsky S-70i military helicopter–a new export variant of the UH-60M Black Hawk–made its first flight on July 1 from the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla.
On Tuesday, AgustaWestland broke ground on a new Russian production plant at Tomilinom, near Moscow. The 120,000-sq-ft building will house another final assembly line for the AW139 medium twin helicopter that will be operated by HeliVert, a 50-50 joint venture between AgustaWestland and state-owned Russian Helicopters. The AW139 is currently manufactured in Italy, as well as in the U.S. at Agusta’s Philadelphia plant.
Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland’s helicopters address what has become a sweet spot in today’s economy, the medium helicopter segment. And according to AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi, the company is faring well during the worldwide economic downturn.
How is the world economy affecting AgustaWestland?
AgustaWestland is not relocating all its military helicopter manufacturing to the UK, as had been assumed by some in the wake of last month’s dual announcements of a UK Ministry of Defence order for 70 Future Lynx helicopters and the news that the firm’s AW149 model will be built at its facility at Yeovil in southwest England.
At the AgustaWestland breakfast yesterday, company president Giuseppe Orsi emphasized the continued integration of the two companies– Agusta and Westland–and the importance of a single corporate face in the marketplace. Both owned by Finmeccanica, the two were officially merged into a single unit in 2000, but full integration of resources has been slow to develop.
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