A Swiss SAR helicopter A109K2 A South African Air Force A109LUH. Agusta (now part of AgustaWestland) is an Italian helicopter manufacturer. It is based in Samarate, Northern Italy. It is a subsidiary of Finmeccanica. The company was founded by Count Giovanni Agusta in 1923, who flew his first airplane in 1907. The MV Agusta motorcycle manufacturer began as an offshoot of the Agusta aviation company at the end of the Second World War as a means to save the jobs of employees of the Agusta firm.
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.
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 been a limited commercial success so far, seeing service with the Italian Army, and only now has a modernized variant being developed for the Turkish 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
- Joint ventures
- AgustaBell AB139
- Bell/Agusta BA609 (50% share)
- EHI Industries EH101
- NH90 (32% share)
- Licensed production
- Agusta GA.40
- Agusta GA.70
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