Italian helicopters come to Russia

The Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland continues its active expansion into Russia. A joint project with Russian Helicopters was launched on June 22 in the town of Tomilino, Moscow region, to build an assembly facility for AW139 light twin-engine helicopters. The facility should open in 2011, and is expected to assemble five airframes during its first year.

The partners started their cooperation few years ago. The assembly line will be operated by the HeliVert joint venture, in which Russia holds 40% and Italy owns 60%. Russian Helicopters General Director Andrey Shibitov says the HeliVert paperwork should be signed this summer. "Almost all the documents have been initialed, now lawyers on both sides are ironing out the final details of the shareholders’ agreement," he says.

The partners are planning to ramp up annual production to 24 airframes by the year 2015. Total investment in the project stands at some 40 million euros. The joint venture should break even in eight years from launch. Its products will be marketed in Russia and CIS countries, and also will be distributed via AgustaWestland’s international sales network. There are as yet no firm orders for Russian-assembled AW139s, but undisclosed customers have together committed to some 10 aircraft.

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