The European Commission has rejected the Italian government's justification for awarding helicopter contracts directly to AgustaWestland and failing to open the procurements to competitive tendering.

The acquisition of Agusta A109s and Agusta Bell AB412s for the Italian police and fire brigade infringed competition rules, the EC has ruled.

Italy could now be brought before the European Court of Justice. Last November a regional Italian court ordered AgustaWestland to cancel contracts valued at €300 million ($390 million) for the supply of helicopters to the Italian military police, customs and forestry service. AgustaWestland is appealing against this decision.

AgustaWestland and the Italian government say that these contracts were awarded on the basis that the helicopters were being acquired as military products, which are exempt from competition laws, but this argument had failed to convince the EC.

Source: Flight International