AgustaWestland celebrated the opening of a new AW139 medium-twin helicopter assembly line in Philadelphia last week, just days before the company announced here at Heli-Expo 2008 new orders worth an estimated $163 million. More than half the orders were for AW139s.
The Philadelphia facility–site for final assembly and production of the AW119 model and AW109 completion and customization–encompasses nearly 300,000 sq ft of warehouse and office space on 12.3 acres of land. It is the OEM’s third main helicopter final assembly plant (the others are in Italy and next door to the new factory in Philadelphia), able to produce 30 AW119 and 30 AW139 helicopters per year at the full-scale production rate. It will employ approximately 500 people by the end of the year.
Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell said last Wednesday that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offered AgustaWestland a $400,000 investment package–in addition to $2 million it granted in 2004–to support the facility as it expands to its full-scale production capability. The investment includes a $200,000 opportunity grant and $200,000 in job creation tax credits. The total cost of the expansion is expected to reach $32 million.
AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi said the expansion highlights the company’s growing presence and investment in the U.S. “This new facility is a demonstration of AgustaWestland’s commitment to bringing the best technology and long-lasting jobs to the U.S.,” he said, adding that the positive economic impact of the company’s investment will continue for years to come.
Giovanni Castellaneta, Italy’s ambassador to the U.S., added, “The opening of this manufacturing plant is a valuable example of economic cooperation and is important in context to the overall relations between Italy and the U.S. Manufacturing facilities such as this play a significant role in driving the global economy and creating jobs in these times of financial uncertainty in the global markets.”
Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey (Dem.) also applauded the “great international partnership” between the U.S. and Italy. “At a time when so many companies in the U.S. are shipping jobs overseas, we’re doing the reverse here in Philadelphia. [AgustaWestland] is bringing jobs into the city, and we’re grateful for that.”
Orsi also highlighted the role of the AW139 in EMS, SAR, law enforcement and homeland security in the U.S., to which Congressman Allyson Schwartz (Dem.) added, “This expansion will help increase our region’s economic strength and ensure that both our military and local law enforcement organizations have access to the critical tools and resources they need.” Rep. Patrick Murphy, another Democrat, commented, “As we open this new facility we take another step toward creating more jobs, boosting our regional economy and better securing our nation.”
To date, AgustaWestland has received orders for 300 AW139s and delivered 110. The largest regional customer base is in the Middle East, accounting for 29 percent of all orders.