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Wed, Feb 20, 2008

AgustaWestland Celebrates AW139 Assembly Line Grand Opening In PHL

Second Line Will Help Company Meet Demand In Americas

AgustaWestland celebrated the Grand Opening of its new AW139 medium twin helicopter assembly line in Philadelphia, PA during an event held Wednesday, and attended by over 300 guests and an additional 400 employees. The helomaker says the opening underlined its growing presence in the US, and the expansion of its Philadelphia facility.

In addition to the assembly of the AW139, the facility is also responsible for AW119 Ke production and supports the expanding fleet of AgustaWestland helicopters in North and South America. The company broke ground on the new 168,000 square foot facility in November 2005. Just over one year later, in December 2006, the first AW139 assembled in Philadelphia was delivered to its customer.

"The decision to expand this facility and establish the second AW139 assembly line in Philadelphia highlights our growing presence in the United States and our commitment to expand and invest in the United States," said AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi. "The AW139 is proving to be the right solution for more and more missions worldwide including offshore transport, VIP transport, EMS, SAR, law enforcement and recently for Homeland Security here in the United States."

The second AW139 assembly line gives AgustaWestland added resources to meet healthy demand for the AW139 medium twin turbine helicopter, with particular focus on the expanding Americas' markets. Just over one year since production started, the AW139 assembly line is reaching full-scale production, producing 30 helicopters per year. By the end of 2008, the Philadelphia facility will grow to more than 500 employees, adding over 150 new jobs.

"This expansion is not only an investment in the City of Philadelphia, but the people of Philadelphia as well," said Senator Bob Casey. "I was pleased to be at the grand opening today to witness the expansion of the long-running partnership between AgustaWestland and the Philadelphia region."

"It is an honor to be here today in Philadelphia to celebrate the grand opening of this important expansion," added Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. "This expansion will help increase our region's economic strength and ensure that both our military and local law enforcement organizations have access to the critical tools and resources they need."

The Philadelphia facility has steadily expanded to become AgustaWestland's third main helicopter final assembly location and continues to be the main product support center for customers throughout the Americas. Customer support is provided 24 hours per day 7 days per week for a fleet of more than 360 helicopters in the Americas. The Philadelphia plant is also devoted to both flight and maintenance training activities.

AgustaWestland's presence in Philadelphia dates back to 1980. A 75,000 square foot maintenance facility was built in 1988 to support a growing US commercial helicopter fleet. In 2004 the facility underwent major expansion with the relocation of the A119 Koala production line to Philadelphia and today is the sole production location for the AW119 Ke, the new upgraded version of the A119 Koala.

The Philadelphia plant also undertakes the completion and customisation of AW109 Power and Grand light twin helicopters for customers in North and South America.

FMI: www.agustawestland.com

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