AgustaWestland plant marks anniversary

Dec. 21, 2011 at 7:22 AM
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ROME, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- AgustaWestland reports its final assembly line in Venice Tessera, Italy, for NH90 helicopters has marked its first year in operation.

The plant delivered its first NH90 last June, completed a total of nine aircraft this year and plans to assemble and deliver as many as 18 more helicopters next year.

Orders for the aircraft include 60 for the Italian army and 56 for the Italian navy. The Netherlands has ordered 20 aircraft. Norway has ordered 14 and Portugal has asked for 10, the company said.

Other countries that have placed firm orders for the helicopter include France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Greece, Spain, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and Oman.

The NH90 is a medium-lift, multi-role military helicopter developed from NATO requirements. It has a maximum cruise speed of 160 knots, a maximum range of 530 nautical miles and a flight endurance of five hours.

There are two versions -- the tactical transport helicopter and the naval version.

The TTH version, which can carry up to 20 troops, is also used for medical evacuation. The TTH models ordered by the Italian army will replace older models used by the service in utility roles. The naval versions ordered will be used in anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and for utility functions.

AgustaWestland said one NH90 TTH was delivered to the Italian army and one NH90 NFH to the Italian navy this month, coinciding with the anniversary of the plant's opening.

The Venice Tessera plant is about 25,800 square feet in area. The company said it will be expanded for inclusion maintenance functions, spare parts and engineering services.

The NH90 program is managed by an NHIndustries consortium that includes AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Fokker. Also involved is NATO's Helicopter Management Agency.

Under the arrangement, the aircraft's main transmission, tail rotor drive shafts, hydraulic system, automatic flight control system, rear ramp, rear fuselage and on-board computers are the responsibility of AgustaWestland, which also integrates special systems for the naval variant of the aircraft.

AgustaWestland is part of Finmeccanica SpA, an Italian high-technology company in the aerospace, defense and security sectors. It is also involved in the space sector and has operations in Germany, Poland and France.

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