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£46m government funding for AgustaWestland's UK civil rotorcraft projects

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that it has been selected to go forward to the contracting phase for their bid of up to £46 million from Round 3 of the Government's Regional Growth Fund (RGF). The combined RGF and AgustaWestland investment of more than £100 million will create a brand new industry sector in the UK with the establishment of a Civil Helicopter Hub. The projects will create and safeguard over 3000 jobs across the UK and create hundreds of new opportunities for the UK supply chain.

The funding will also support the design and development in the UK of advanced technologies in the field of tiltrotor systems integration and for increasing the performance of tiltrotors, which combine the benefits of a helicopter and an aeroplane in one aircraft.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said "Advanced manufacturing is important to the future of our economy and the Government is determined to get behind it through our industrial strategy. Our work with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership has identified boosting exports and growing high value jobs as priorities – that is exactly what AgustaWestland's exciting projects can deliver.

"Targeted support through the Regional Growth Fund can really help world leading companies like AgustaWestland to continue to compete with the very best."

Ray Edwards, Managing Director, AgustaWestland said "Today's announcement marks the start of a new era for Britain's rotorcraft industry. This funding and the investment being made by AgustaWestland will enable the UK to become a key player in the growing commercial rotorcraft sector."

He added "We welcome the support of the RGF and Government as we are committed to helping develop further the UK Civil Aerospace industry through the work undertaken by the Aerospace Growth Partnership. It is this type of positive collaboration of industry and the Government that will help create a long term strategy and a shared vision for UK aerospace."

The Civil Helicopter Facility will include a commercial helicopter final assembly line, helicopter maintenance facility, helicopter training academy in conjunction with the Aerohub at Newquay Cornwall Airport, and a helicopter Research and Development (R&D) Centre in conjunction with industry and academia.

RGF funding will support design and development work for the AW609 TiltRotor and future tiltrotor designs. AgustaWestland will work with the National Composites Centre, University of Liverpool and a number of key UK suppliers on this programme. This project will allow UK industry and academia to be involved in the most advanced and innovative aerospace programme of today. The AW609 TiltRotor is set to revolutionise flying by combining the benefits of a helicopter and an aeroplane and it will be the world's first high speed commercial rotorcraft to enter the market following certification in 2016.

These projects will provide long term sustainability and growth of highly skilled engineering and manufacturing jobs across the UK and create hundreds of new opportunities for the UK supply chain. It will also support a wide range of research projects for future commercial rotorcraft programmes, keeping the UK at the very forefront of rotorcraft technology.

Press release issued by Leonardo Helicopters on October 19, 2012


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