AgustaWestland rehearses South American expansion at FIDAE 2014
|Wednesday 16 April 2014||Text by Carlos Ay under Industry|
Exploiting the benefits of an incipient local customers base, an expanding Chilean dealer and the Italian Ministry of Defence, AgustaWestland explored FIDAE 2014 as a platform to expand their presence in Spanish South America. The multinational helicopter subsidiary of the Italian Finmeccanica holding group, featured its largest FIDAE helicopter contingent ever. AgustaWestland’s own exhibits comprised an Italian Air Force HH-139A (which we dealt with in a separate story, see “AW139M initiates South American tour at FIDAE 2014”) and a Spanish-registered AW119Ke from Faasa Aviación. Chilean representatives, Aviasur, had an AW109SP Grandnew and a brand-new AW119Kx on display (the first in South America). This increasing participation in FIDAE 2014 and the company’s credentials substiantiate their South American market intended boost.
In addition to being part of the huge Finmeccanica group and grossing up € 4,242 million in revenue and 13,050 employees (according to 2012 figures), AgustaWestland possesses research and development facilities, component production plants and assembly lines in Italy, England, Poland and the USA. Its civil product range covers the entire spectrum, from the five-seat, single-engined SW-4 to the 18-passenger, twin-engined AW189, from the VIP top-of-the-line AW109 Grand to the futuristic AW109 Tiltrotor. In addition to missionized variants from the civilian range, specific military offerings include classic such as the Super Lynx, the AW101, the T129 and the NH90.
Business talks: “We envision great things in the area”
Gaceta Aeronáutica spent some time at the AgustaWestland chalet and got exclusive comments from the company’s Head of Region (South America), Fabrizio Romano, about their latest and most meaningul appearance at FIDAE:
Gaceta Aeronáutica: What’s your positioning in the Latin American military helicopter marketplace? Do you see any meaningful competitor in the region? How do you expect to confront theses competitors in Latin America?
Fabrizio Romano: Spanish South America, is, and it’s not a secret, an Airbus [Helicopters] and Bell [Helicopter] stronghold. This notwithstanding, AgustaWestland is regaining ground and market share thanks to the light twin products for parapublic and corporate/VIP transport. AW119Ke and Kx, the latter just delivered by Aviasur in its first South American unit, are exceptional helicopters with no competitors for performances and cabin size; the AW109 Power and GrandNew have similar features in the light twin segment. These helicopters have already started operating for various applications (law enforcement, firefighting and corporate transport) and we expect their success to continue [to] erode our competitors’ market. In the military segment, the AW139M could be a game changer (in the upper segment) to fill a series of requirements by various government agencies in the area, thanks to its versatility and cost effectiveness.
Gaceta Aeronáutica: How is your sales and support network organized in the region? Do you feel this is adequate for your present market share and future forecasts? Do you plan any changes or improvements? Can we expect to see AgustaWestland subsidiaries or joint ventures coming out in the region in the near future?
Fabrizio Romano: Our sales and support network has been for a while mainly centered on AgustaWestland do Brasil as the South American centre of gravity. This wasn’t adequate enough to support countries like Chile. In the last few years we ramped up our presence beginning with Aviasur, our distributor in Chile and Peru and operator of an AgustaWestland Service Centre. Furthermore, we will soon open an office in Santiago to be closer to our customers. Other opportunities might come, but it’s a bit too early to say.
Gaceta Aeronáutica: Which was the main message / value proposition you expected to convey to your Latin American customers at FIDAE 2014?
Fabrizio Romano: FIDAE 2014 was the first FIDAE AgustaWestland attended with its own chalet and with helicopters in the static area [Editor’s note: And flying too!]. The message is that we are more and more present in South America and will continue to grow in the future. Our product range is vast and perfectly fits what operators need, in the military as well where we have the support of the Italian Air Force. We envision great things in the area.
Sources: AgustaWestland, El Mercurio and ModoCharlie. Acknowledgements: Michel Ancieux, Mauricio Chiófalo, Gustavo Lepez (Toda la Aviación blog), Diego Rojo (Air Mercosur blog) and Iván Siminic (El Observador Aeronáutico blog) contributed to this story.