AW clears misconception on military manufacture

 - November 27, 2006, 12:18 PM

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. This misperception developed, according to a company spokesman, because it plans to make Yeovil the headquarters for its military products, under the direction of Alan Johnson, managing director of AgustaWestland military products.

“This does not mean,” said the spokesperson, “that all our military aircraft will be developed and built in the UK. For example, we are not moving the work we do for the NH90 from Italy to Britain.”

Similarly, the headquarters for AgustaWestland’s civil products will be headquartered in Italy, under the direction of Bruno Spagnolini.

The spokesman said AgustaWestland would also continue to do work in the U.S. as needed. The company now assembles all A119 Koalas at its factory in Philadelphia and plans to build a second production line for the AW139 there as well. It is also doing work on the US101 Presidential helicopter in the U.S.

Here at the Farnborough airshow, AgustaWestland is displaying its wares within parent-company Finmeccanica’s exhibit area. It’s showing a Royal Danish Air Force EH101 Merlin, an A109LUH, a Super Lynx 300 bound for the South African air force, the latest version of the A129, an A119 Koala in VIP configuration, an AW139 in offshore configuration and a Grand in EMS layout. At a press briefing here today, the company plans to provide more information on its 16,500-pound-AW149 military helicopter.

AgustaWestland accounted for 24 percent of Finmeccanica’s aerospace, defense and systems revenues last year, the largest contribution to the group’s top line of any single entity. By Finmeccanica’s reckoning, its ?11.5 billion ($14.5 billion) in 2005 revenue ranks it the eighth largest aerospace company in the world, behind Boeing, EADS, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Raytheon and General Dynamics. Following Finmeccanica are Thales, Honeywell, Safran, L-3 Communications and Bombardier.