Since the grand consolidation of European aerospace that created Airbus and EADS, Italy's industry has stayed somewhat on the sidelines, carving its own niche under national champion Finmeccanica and working on key projects with European and US partners. In many ways, Italy has been left with the best of both worlds, achieving success in North America but also leaving the door open to collaboration with EADS and emerging players such as Russia.

In this country special, we chart some of Italian industry's successes and challenges. These include a stretched defence budget and, at times, lack of a critical mass that a major global alliance would afford.  But its triumphs are many too, from a robust SME sector with an increasingly global outlook, to Piaggio's rebirth in the business aviation sector.

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Dream ticket - Finmeccanica & EADS
Are continental Europe's two aerospace giants - never the best of bedfellows - ready for a closer alliance?

At full stretch - Defence
International commitments and homeland security requirements are putting the Italian armed services under pressure even as defence budgets are squeezed.

Atlantic ambitions - Italy in the USA
Led by Alenia Aeronautica, Italy's aerospace companies are targeting the USA through a combination of industrial alliances and collaborative programmes.

Roll out the barrels - 787 workshare
Alenia Aeronautica has invested a great deal in its relationship with Boeing.  We look at its role in the 787.

Power base - Avio
Italy's engine champion Avio has spread its risks successfully over a number of global programmes.

Daring to be different - Piaggio
T - Piaggio's next aircraft will not ditch its reputation for innovative design. But the company says its first business jet will owe as much to pragmatism as passion.

Extended families - SMES
A spate of new industry groupings or clusters is adding to the muscle and competitiveness of Italy's small and medium-sized manufacturers.

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External links:

Italian Ministry of Defence


Source: Flight International