AgustaWestland, July 21, 2011 - AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce the launch of UK involvement in the AW169 commercial helicopter programme with the support of a £22 million loan by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The announcement was made today by the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills during a visit to AgustaWestland’s Yeovil factory.
Bruno Spagnolini, CEO, AgustaWestland said following the announcement, “Today marks the beginning of a new era for our Yeovil factory and for its UK supply network. We are confident that the AW169 will be a great success in the market place and now every AW169 helicopter sold will incorporate key rotorcraft technologies developed in the UK and critical helicopter systems manufactured in the UK.” Ray Edwards, Managing Director, AgustaWestland said, “The start of AW169 commercial helicopter work at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil factory is a central element of AgustaWestland UKs diversification strategy to protect and grow the skills and capabilities required for a strong helicopter industry in the UK. The AW169 design and development work will mainly take place over the next three years with deliveries to customers starting in 2015.”
AgustaWestland and its many suppliers in the UK will play a major role in the design, development and manufacture of the rotor blades and intermediate and tail gearboxes and tail rotor hub, thus keeping Yeovil as a world centre of excellence in these key rotorcraft technological areas. AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility will also undertake flight testing with one of the four AW169 prototypes and lead the development of the training infrastructure and courseware for aircrew and ground crew training. The commercial helicopter market is a new sector for UK advanced manufacturing, with the UK helicopter market being the largest in Europe. The UK commercial helicopter market, in both the public and private sectors, will also now be able to purchase a helicopter with a UK pedigree, with a full suite of support capabilities available onshore. AgustaWestland is forecasting sales of nearly 1000 AW169 helicopters worldwide over a 25 year period. A versatile, new generation twin engine light intermediate category helicopter, the AW169 has been designed in response to the growing market demand for an aircraft that delivers high performance, meets all the latest safety standards and has multi-role capabilities. The 4.5 ton AW169 will incorporate several new technology features to provide the highest levels of safety and operational benefits for its customers. New generation technologies are incorporated in the rotor system, engines, avionics, transmission and electric power generation and distribution systems. The AW169 is set to be the most advanced and cost-effective helicopter in its class for EMS/SAR, law enforcement, passenger and offshore transport and utility missions.