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AgustaWestland Targets Growth by Boosting Civilian Business

AgustaWestland Targets Growth by Boosting Civilian Business

AgustaWestland SpA, the Italian maker of U.S presidential helicopters, aims to increase annual sales of civilian aircraft by as much as 15 percent, said Giuseppe Orsi, chief executive officer of the Finmeccanica SpA unit. “Our civilian-industry revenue is around 1 billion euros ($1.42 billion) a year,” Orsi said in an interview yesterday at a conference in Cernobbio, Italy. “We are aiming to increase sales in the sector by 10 percent to 15 percent annually.” AgustaWestland is diversifying its product line and is expanding in Eastern Europe and emerging markets to boost its market share amid the global economic recession. The Finmeccanica unit, together with Fort Worth, Texas- based Bell Helicopter, is developing a hybrid aircraft that combines the speed of a turboprop with the takeoff and landing ability of a helicopter. The BA609 Tiltrotor, which was displayed in Cernobbio, could be used as an air taxi to avoid traffic in congested urban areas such as Rome, Orsi said. AgustaWestland aims to sell 500 of the new aircraft at a price of about 20 million euros each from 2013, Orsi said. The company has already signed preliminary sales contracts for 80 of the hybrid aircraft, which can be used for both civilian and military purposes, the chief executive added. The unit of Rome-based Finmeccanica sells about 70 percent of its products to the military and 30 percent for civilian use, a ratio it aims to maintain, Orsi said. President Barack Obama wants to end Lockheed Martin Corp.’s presidential helicopter program that is based on a model designed by AgustaWestland. The U.S. Navy has spent $3.2 billion in development and production of the first five units of the helicopter.

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