AgustaWestland cracked open the Champagne at the show yesterday after clinching a 20-aircraft deal, worth an estimated $80 million, to supply A109 Power helicopters to the Swedish armed forces.

The contract will be signed by the end of June and is to equip Sweden's tri-service helicopter wing with a designated helicopter trainer.

AgustaWestland says deliveries will begin in October 2003 through to 2007. Twelve aircraft will be used in the training role, while eight will go to the Swedish navy for operational training.

Sweden currently operates a mix of Bell 412s, KV-107s and Bo105s. It has selected the Turbomeca Arrius 2K2 powerplant for its aircraft, over the Pratt & Whitney 206C.An unspecified industrial package has been agreed with the Swedish government, but manufacture will take place in Italy, AgustaWestland chief executive Amadeo Caporaletti confirmed.

Caporaletti again raised the prospect of further consolidation in the industry, saying that over-capacity in the world market and one too many big players meant that a merger was essential "within the next two years".

He also gave a positive analysis of progress on the proposed purchase by AgustaWestland PZL Swidnik¹s helicopter business.

Meanwhile, the Anglo-Italian manufacturer says it hopes to have a US partner on the EH101 programme by year end.

Ron Jones, AgustaWestland business group director, refused to rule out more than one partner, but conceded that teaming with one company was most likely.

Bell Helicopter, Boeing and Lockheed Martin are the clearest candidates for the partnership.

Source: Flight Daily News