Italian police arrested the current and former CEOs of AgustaWestland on bribery charges this morning and raided the company’s Milan headquarters. Giuseppe Orsi, who served as the helicopter manufacturer’s CEO until December 2011 and is currently head of its parent company, Finmeccanica, was taken into custody, while current AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini was placed under house arrest.
AgustaWestland is making a new push into South America. The Italian helicopter maker, part of the defense and industrial conglomerate Finmeccanica, signed a memorandum of understanding on January 21 to establish a joint venture with Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer to build AgustaWestland helicopters in Brazil for both the domestic and regional military and civilian markets.
Managers and R&D specialists from the aerospace, defense and security (ADS) sector met in London last week to explore emerging adjacent markets, such as energy, environment and climate; food and water security; and natural disaster protection and response. Sponsored by EADS, Finmeccanica, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Saab, the event was the third in a series organized by British consultantcy Dynamixx, in association with IHS.
At first glance, the proposed merger between EADS and BAE should not pose problems for competition regulators on either side of the Atlantic, from a defense perspective. There is very little overlap between the businesses. “It’s a great strategic fit,” one EADS official told AIN. However, that may not stop companies such as Finmeccanica or Thales from raising questions about the consolidation of first-tier defense contractors in Europe.
Three Finmeccanica companies have signed agreements with the Russian defense export agency Rosoboronexport to offer maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) versions of Russian types. Selex Galileo would provide its ATOS mission management system, while radio specialist Selex Elsag would provide advanced CNI (communications, navigation, identification) equipment.
The only way is up for Italian aerospace group Finmeccanica after it announced record losses of €2.3 billion ($3 billion) on March 27. Massive “exceptional events” and “non-recurring” charges totaling almost €3.2 billion ($4.3 billion) accounted for most of the financial hit.
SuperJet International announced on February 28 that its board of directors has appointed Nazario Cauceglia new CEO of the company, a joint venture between Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aermacchi (51 percent) and Sukhoi Holding (49 percent).
Circumstances are colliding that will have significant impact on new civil helicopter development programs for the remainder of the decade. In the West, new civil programs are typically the byproducts of defense spending. And when it comes to dropping defense dollars and euros on new manned helicopter programs, the party might not be over, but it is definitely winding down.
The tumultuous reign of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may be over, but the damage it has inflicted on Italy’s economy and the ongoing euro crisis will likely linger well past his latest criminal trial.
AgustaWestland’s next-generation AW189 prototype made its first flight ahead of schedule yesterday at the Finmeccanica company’s plant in Cascina Costa, Italy. With chief test pilot Giuseppe Lo Coco at the controls, “it performed as expected” during a 45-minute sortie that also included an assessment of the helicopter’s general handling and basic systems.