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AgustaWestland's £46 million boost starts 'new era' for UK rotorcraft industry

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: October 19, 2012

  • A prototype of the new AW189 aircraft is being tested in Somerset by Yeovil helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland

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Bosses at helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland have described this morning's £46 million cash windfall as "the start of a new era for Britain’s rotorcraft industry".

The Yeovil firm has secured the money from the Government's Regional Growth Fund, it has been confirmed this morning.

That investment is likely to be matched by AgustaWestland, and the funding will help the company create a new production line for helicopters targeted at the civil aviation market, such as the AW189.

AgustaWestland bosses say the projects will create and safeguard over 3,000 jobs across the UK, and create hundreds of new opportunities for the UK supply chain.

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AgustaWestland managing director Ray Edwards said: “Today’s announcement marks the start of a new era for Britain’s rotorcraft industry.

"This funding and the investment being made by AgustaWestland will enable the UK to become a key player in the growing commercial rotorcraft sector."

Mr Edwards added: “We welcome the support of the RGF and Government as we are committed to helping develop further the UK Civil Aerospace industry through the work undertaken by the Aerospace Growth Partnership.

"It is this type of positive collaboration of industry and the Government that will help create a long term strategy and a shared vision for UK aerospace.”

The funding will also support the design and development in the UK of advanced technologies in the field of tiltrotor systems integration and for increasing the performance of tiltrotors, which combine the benefits of a helicopter and an aeroplane in one aircraft.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Advanced manufacturing is important to the future of our economy and the Government is determined to get behind it through our industrial strategy.

"Our work with industry through the Aerospace Growth Partnership has identified boosting exports and growing high value jobs as priorities – that is exactly what AgustaWestland’s exciting projects can deliver.

"Targeted support through the Regional Growth Fund can really help world leading companies like AgustaWestland to continue to compete with the very best."

Yeovil MP David Laws said: "This is wonderful news for Agusta Westland and for the economy of Yeovil and South Somerset. This is a real game-changer for Yeovil – and is one of the most important announcements made during my eleven years as MP for Yeovil.

"Agusta Westland has done incredibly well to secure the largest amount of money from the Regional Growth Fund of any successful bidder in South West England. In addition, the company's investment from the Government is the third largest in England in today's announcement.

"I would like to congratulate all those at the company who worked on this bid, and indeed all employees of the company who work in Yeovil.

"Agusta Westland is already one of the world's top defence aerospace companies, and now we have a real chance to create a massive new civil helicopter business for Somerset and for Britain."

Somerset County Council's cabinet member for economic development, Councillor David Hall, said: “This is tremendous news for Somerset, and an exciting time for the staff at Agusta Westland.

“As a council we are working hard to promote Somerset as an attractive place for businesses to invest, develop and flourish; thereby stimulating our local economy.

"We will continue to do whatever we can to make Somerset a place where businesses can thrive, and we welcome government’s endorsement of our strategy, clearly demonstrated by this award.”

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