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A Swiss SAR helicopter A109K2
Agusta (now part of AgustaWestland) is an Italian helicopter manufacturer. It is based in the province of Varese, northern Italy, with its main manufacturing plant being at Samarate. It is a subsidiary of Finmeccanica.
The company was founded by Giovanni Agusta, who flew his first airplane in 1907.
From 1952 the company got involved in helicopter manufacturing, first building Bell helicopters under licence, but later Sikorsky, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas products as well.
The company also had ambitions to design and build its own helicopters. The Agusta A.101 and the Agusta A.106 can be considered the best of its earlier attempts. Others included the AB.102, A.103, A.104, and A.115. It also produced a small line of aero engines such as the GA.70 and GA.140.
Elicotteri Meridionali was formed by Agusta in 1963 as part of an industrialisation programme in south Italy, operating the Frosinone factory, which opened in October 1967, overhauling helicopters for Italian armed services. In April 1968 it concluded an agreement for production under license of Boeing-Vertol CH-47C Chinook tandem rotor helicopters for the Italian Army and for Iran. It also developed the Agusta-designed EMA124 three-seat helicopter, based on the Agusta-Bell 47. Now it is known simply known as the Sesto Calende (VA) facility of Agusta.
Developed in the 1970s, the Agusta A109 has undoubtedly been the company's biggest success. The A109 is a commercial and military twin turbine helicopter, of which the latest variants are still in production, hundreds having already been sold.
In 1983 the Agusta A129 Mangusta anti-tank helicopter partook in its first official flight engagement. It was the first attack helicopter to be designed and produced in Western Europe. However, this helicopter has not been a commercial success, seeing service only with the Italian Army.
The 1980s saw the start of several collaborative projects for Agusta. In 1981 Agusta and Westland of Britain started the EH101 medium-lift naval helicopter project in order to satisfy the requirements of the Royal Navy and the Italian Navy. In 1985 the company started a collaborative programme with the aeronautic industries of France, Germany and the Netherlands in order to develop and produce the NHI NH90, a 9-ton twin engine multi-role medium helicopter in order to satisfy the requirements of their respective countries’ armed forces.
1990s projects include the Agusta A109 Power, an improved version of the A109 (1994) and the Agusta A119 Koala (1997), a single-engine design based on the A109.
Agusta became involved in a notorious Belgian bribery scandal when it was revealed that the company had paid the two Belgian socialist parties who were then (1988/1989) in the government to assist the company in getting the contract for attack helicopters for the Belgian army.
In 1998 Agusta formed a joint venture with Bell Helicopter Textron called the Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company. Its aim was to develop the Bell/Agusta AB139 helicopter and the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor aircraft. Bell later withdrew from the AB139 project, which is now known as the AgustaWestland AW139.
In July 2000 Finmeccanica and GKN plc agreed to merge their respective helicopter subsidiaries (Agusta and GKN-Westland Helicopters), forming AgustaWestland.
* A129 Mangusta
* AgustaWestland AW139
* NH90 (32% share)
* BA609 (50% share)