AgustaWestland aims to strengthen her ties with Turkey

AgustaWestland boasts a longstanding and fruitful presence in Turkey through both multiple sales of various fixed and rotary-winged commercial and military

Date: Issue 19 - December 2009

First of all, in terms of production, investment, export and international projects, how could you evaluate the improvements in figures in 2009? What are your goals and strategies for 2010?

Concerning our 2009 outlook for the commercial helicopter market in all its aspects, it reflects the difficult world economy downturn, a situation that features reduced demand, liquidity shortage and oil price decrease affecting the offshore sector. We are addressing the situation sustaining the demand through solutions to the benefit of our expanding customer base while constantly ensuring profits to our stakeholders. I strongly believe the company’s resources in terms of order book, product range and technological innovation are such we will be able to confirm the positive growth trend we have experienced for years. Concerning next year forecast the company has a strong order book but, of course, we have to take into account the impact of the difficult world economic situation to assess the best way forward to maximize the effectiveness of our strategy.

It is obvious that AgustaWestland with its technological capability plays a leading role in the vertical lift markets. What are the activity line, core capabilities and ongoing programs of AgustaWestland?

It is an AgustaWestland company’s distinguished characteristic to develop new products as well as constantly update the product range and our research and development activities are one of our competitive lever and we are keen to maintain a constant stream of innovation. As a matter of fact we place a great importance on investments in new technology and product development and we have regularly introduced upgrades on the existing product range as well as new products on the market. What we are trying to do is to best focus on technological development which really brings actual advantage to our customers. Significant activity on product development is ongoing on five models, beside the T129. We are also working to introduce innovative technological solutions into our commercial range on a customer demand basis to meet the most stringent requirements. Innovations were and are being introduced in product support and training services too as these are increasingly becoming a relevant stake of our business. For example, we have established the new Customer Service Manager (CSM) role within the AgustaWestland customer support organisation. The CSM, acting as an interface between customers and the Company and as the coordinator and contact point for operators, is responsible for specific regions or countries. Moreover, a new advanced Rotorsim Level D certified AW139 full-flight simulator is located at the CAE’s Northeast Training Centre (NETC) in Morristown, New Jersey, USA.

AgustaWestland has been involved in some major projects in Turkey for many years. Could you please summarize the programs and projects carried out by AgustaWestland in Turkey?

AgustaWestland boasts a longstanding and fruitful presence in Turkey since the early sixties through both multiple sales of various fixed and rotary-winged commercial and military aircraft models and industrial cooperation and partnerships. Initial success in the rotorcraft sector saw the company receiving orders for more than 150 AB204/AB205/AB206 type units in ‘70s through to ‘90s by the Turkish Land Forces, the Turkish Air Force as well as the Turkish Gendarmerie while the Turkish Navy purchased 18 AB212s in ‘80s. Another major step was performed when the Turkish Under Secretariat for Defence Industries awarded AgustaWestland a contract for the procurement of a total of 15 AB412EP Search and Rescue helicopters for Coast Guard Command between 1998 and 2004. Our relationship with Turkish industries has been further enhanced in March 2004 by starting cooperating with Turkish Aerospace Industry Inc. (TAI) also on one of the most advanced AgustaWestland’s products: the AW139 medium twin helicopter. A contract was signed allowing TAI to manufacture the fuselage of such new generation medium twin helicopter which has rapidly become the best selling in the world market in its class. By this cooperation on one of the company’s most advanced products, AgustaWestland has set the basis for a successful long term relationship.

It is well known that the ATAK project can be considered a significant achievement for AgustaWestland in Turkey. Recently, the T129 performed its maiden flight in Vergiate. Could you please update us about the current status of the project, future activities, your cooperation with TAI and other Turkish sub contractors?

Today an integrated team of Turkish and Italian engineers and technicians is working in Turkey, UK and Italy to guarantee the T129 programme is running on time and on budget. The first T129 helicopter demonstrator (P1), which performed its maiden flight on September 28th, will be followed by P2 and P3 prototypes in 2010. P4, the first TAI aircraft, is scheduled to be delivered to TAI next year for final assembly in Turkey and will be used to achieve military certification for the full T129 configuration. Aircraft P4 will then be delivered to the Turkish Army as the first production helicopter. The programme also includes a second TAI assembled prototype, P5, which will fly in 2011. The first T129 is expected to be delivered to the Turkish Land Forces Command in 2013 and deliveries by TAI will go on through to 2018. TAI is acting as prime contractor and system integrator while additional leading Turkish aerospace companies such as Aselsan, Roketsan and TEI are being involved in the programme with significant industrial benefits for Turkey, including local final assembly, delivery and acceptance of the aircraft. Turkish industry is also being enabled to provide the T129 with total support capability. The Turkish industry will supply several systems also including FLIR, glass cockpit, mission computer and major on board electronics, targeting, navigation, communication and electronic warfare systems as well as weapon systems. A new T129 dedicated facility was opened this year at the AgustaWestland headquarters in Cascina Costa, Italy. The new dedicated facility, staffed by more than 70 Turkish and AgustaWestland integrated team technicians, comprises an assembly area for the T129 prototypes as well as office space for the T129 team members. The entire facility has been designed to bring together the integrated team into a single location to enable all industry partners to work together in a highly efficient manner.

Could you please describe the marketing activities for the T129 worldwide?

TAI and AgustaWestland are already pursuing several market opportunities worldwide. Thanks to its outstanding features in terms of performance, multirole capabilities in all weather and environmental conditions, state-of-the-art technology, safety, serviceability and low operating costs, the T129 is being offered to meet several multirole combat helicopter requirements. The T129 could offer potential customers the very latest technology to meet their demanding operational requirements together with a low cost solution for through life support.

The negotiation on the production of General Purpose Helicopter between SSM and AgustaWestland and Sikorsky is still in process. How do you assess AgustaWestland’s position and competence within the scope of this project?

The Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme represents a new opportunity to expand our partnership with the Turkish aerospace industries and the T129 winning and collaborative will is the strong base for the TUHP149. The TUHP149 programme maximizes the involvement of TAI and of additional players from the Turkish aerospace and defence industry, namely Aselsan, TEI, Roketsan, Havelsan and others in the development of a new technology aircraft.

Turkish industries could be immediately involved in the joint design and development of the TUHP149 as well as in the helicopter maturity programme, a first time ever for the Turkish industry with an invaluable know-how growth. Moreover the TUHP149 will be assembled, tested and delivered from Turkish facilities. Turkish industry will be also responsible for final assembly for all TUHP149 helicopters to be supplied to Turkey. Through the TUHP149 programme Turkish industry will also access to a number of critical technologies related to gear box components production. These will add to the technology already under development through the T129 programme like composite blade production. TUHP149 composite blade production is envisaged too. Indigenous support capability is granted through third level maintenance further contributing to know-how growth. Within the TUPH149 framework agreement Turkish industry will be granted full export right for the TUHP149. Potential worldwide market for a TUHP149 class helicopter is significant. There are more than 8000 helicopters in the current worldwide military fleet which could be identified as requiring eventual replacement over the next 35 years. The TUHP149 will be the only new generation helicopter in this class, specifically designed for the military/governmental market. Through the TUHP149 programme Turkish aerospace industry could thus play a leading role in achieving the Turkish government goal in terms of defence export.

As you are aware,Turkey has made significant steps forward in the defence technology field in recent years. What are your strategies and plans regarding investment and joint production in Turkey to strengthen the collaboration with Turkish Authorities and Turkish Defence Industry?

The ATAK programme represents the beginning of a new endeavour in AgustaWestland partnership with the Turkish armed forces and the Turkish aerospace industry, a new course in this relation which AgustaWestland has envisioned, planned, and executed with SSM with the aim to build in Turkey a modern helicopter industry to better satisfy the need of the Turkish armed forces while enhancing the technological capability of the overall Turkish defence industry. Through the ATAK programme AgustaWestland is transferring its know-how to the Turkish industry so making this relationship evolve into a strategic partnership. By the ATAK programme the collaboration with the Turkish aerospace industry has been extended to the core of the helicopter technology represented by a complex system integration which will make the T129 the most advanced in its category, so satisfying the requirement of the land forces as well as making it very appealing to the international market where the Turkish industry will be able to play a primary role. Transferring AgustaWestland’s know-how to the Turkish industry through the ATAK programme is making this relationship evolve into a strategic partnership able to foster mutual benefits in the future.

Could you please keep us updated about your international marketing strategies and your target regions? Can we imagine the Turkish Defence Industry will be your team player in line with your marketing strategies related to other AgustaWestland programmes?

AgustaWestland offers the most complete range of products on the world market where the company has been increasingly accredited as a potential winner or a leading contender for the major competitions. As I mentioned above, the ATAK Team is already promoting the T129 worldwide as the most modern combat helicopter available today. Through the TUHP149 the Turkish industry would access a potential market of 8000 same class units by providing a major contribution for the development of the sole latest technology helicopter in this class. As you can see, whether an established, an ongoing or a potential programme, by our cooperation together we are able to pursue the most challenging goals by offering operators the very latest technology. A cooperation that allows both of us to multiply business opportunities and access new markets with unprecedented mutual benefits.

Would you like to give some additional information and messages for our readers?

I would like to stress that now comes the time when we have new opportunities to further expand our long standing and fruitful collaboration performing new steps forward into an even closer cooperation for new technology programmes. The ATAK team is a solid, reliable, performing group of industries which are developing state of the art Turkish aviation technology. It is also a precious Turkish resource which shall be further exploited both in terms of products and technology developed as well as in terms of consolidated industrial cooperation.