PRODUCTS | AIRFRAMES
AgustaWestland and the Russian aerospace giant Oboronprom have agreed to jointly set up an AW139 line in Russia, a move that could give the British-Italian manufacturer a key advantage over competitors in the offshore-support market.
Western oil and gas companies, driven by high oil and natural gas prices and doubts about existing supplies, want access to Russian oil fields. Russian officials want exploration and production from their fields supported by helicopters built in that nation, a demand that conflicts with energy companies’ insistence on helicopters that meet the latest safety standards. If they succeed in jointly setting up an AW139 production line, AW and Oboronprom would be able to offer a Russian-built helicopter that meets the energy companies’ safety requirements.
"The market in Russia is growing month by month, not just year by year," said AW CEO Giuseppe Orsi. "It is very important to have an industrial presence in Russia. We want to be there."
The production line to be set up outside Moscow and operational by 2010 would serve AW139 customers in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Its pursuit is the third phase of cooperation between the manufacturers. They previously have agreed for Oboronprom to distribute AW aircraft in Russia and to jointly maintain AW aircraft there.
"We want to expand very aggressively," said Andrei Reus, general director of Oboronprom, which is consolidating former Soviet Union helicopter design and manufacturing outfits under the company Vertolety Rossii or Helicopters of Russia.