The Petters brothers began a small engineering company in Yeovil, Somerset in the early 1900s and it eventually grew into Westland Aircraft. Helicopter work had started as early as 1948, re-working and improving the Sikorsky S-51 design to produce the Dragonfly for the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, entering service in 1953. This same year saw the last fixed wing design (the Wyvern) and Westland had produced about 6000 aircraft before it decided to concentrate on excellence in rotary wing airframes.
A similar improvement approach produced the Whirlwind (from the S-55) and the Wessex (from the S-58), which was also re-engineered for gas turbine operations. Major rationalisation of the UK aircraft industry occurred during the 1960s. Westland acquired Bristol Helicopters, Fairey Aviation and Saunders-Roe to transform itself into Westland Helicopters with plants at Yeovil, Weston-super-Mare, Eastleigh and Hayes.
In July 2000, GKN and Finnemeccanica (of Italy) concluded a joint venture agreement and AgustaWestland came into being in 2001.
Collaboration with Sikorsky (a major shareholder) continued with the Sea King and new arrangements were made with Aérospatiale for the Puma, Gazelle and Lynx and their derivatives. The mid 1980s were a very difficult period. By the late 1980s an acrimonious political row, figure-headed by Michael Hesletine and Leon Brittain led Westland to adopt a more European focus and began collaboration with Agusta on the EH101 (to become the Merlin). By 1994, United Technologies (Sikorsky's parent company) sold its stock in Westland and this was snapped up by GKN as part of its take-over. GKN-Westland was born in 1995. The injection of capital helped secure the UK Apache production for the British Army.
List of Westland models
10-Dec-01 - Denmark to buy 14 EH101
03-Dec-01 - Portugal Announces the procurement of 12 EH101
13-Feb-01 - EH101 in Service and in Demand
16-Oct-00 - Troop Loading Milestone for Royal Air Force s EH101 Merlin HC Mk3
19-Jul-00 - First UK Built WAH-64 Apache Makes Maiden Flight
|More News ...|
| 04-Jul-00 - 6th EH-101 Merlin Mk3 to RAF |
24-May-00 - Royal Navy EH-101 Merlin trials
12-May-00 - EH-101 demonstates SAR & Rescue credentials
27-Mar-00 - Merlin deliveries reach the halfway mark
13-Dec-99 - First Army WAH-64 Apache Arrives 100 Days Early
22-Nov-99 - North Oil and Gas Platform Landing Success for EH101
22-Nov-99 - Westland opens new transmissions test facility
09-Sep-99 - Transatlantic First for EH101
29-Jul-99 - Westland and Boeing Joint Venture for Apaches