AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters break ground on Moscow AW139 assembly facility

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Russian Helicopters and AgustaWestland broke ground on 22 June on a final assembly plant for the AW139 helicopter.

More than 20 of the medium twin-engined helicopters will be assembled at the 40,000m² (430,570ft²) site in Tomilino, near Moscow, by 2015, says Russian Helicopters, although the annual production rate will be set at around five aircraft when manufacturing begins in 2011.

The venture, dubbed HeliVert, was formed three years ago in an effort to satisfy growing demand for the 15-seat utility aircraft - mainly VIP, corporate and offshore configured types - in Russia and the CIS countries. A new marketing venture called Exclasses has been set up by the partners to promote and sell the AW139 within the region.

Russian Helicopters says the venture should provide a valuable insight into the Western helicopter manufacturing, allowing it to bolster its position in the highly competitive international arena. The deal could also lead to the manufacture of other AgustaWestland types in Russia.

"Russian Helicopters is increasing its presence on foreign markets, delivering Russian rotorcraft to foreign customers and opening service centres," says Russian Helicopters chief operating officer Andrei Shibitov.

"We are interested in the foreign experience of organising, managing, planning, certificating production processes, and knowhow in managing the entire lifecycle of a product," Shibitov adds. "We are set to gain maximum benefit working with our Italian partners. Russian Helicopters will strengthen Russia's commercial position in the international helicopter market."