WESTLAND HELICOPTERS LIMITED (an AgustaWestland company)
Westland Aircraft Ltd (later expanded to Westland Group plc) formed July 1935, taking over aircraft branch of Petters Ltd (known previously as Westland Aircraft Works) that had designed/built aircraft since 1915; entered helicopter industry having acquired licence to build US Sikorsky S-51 as Dragonfly 1947.
GKN shareholding in Westland Group progressively increased until overall control achieved on 18 april 1994. Merger of GKN's helicopter interests and those of Italy's Finmeccanica finalised on 26 July 2000 with announcement of AgustaWestland; this declared fully operational on 12 February 2001.
Westland Helicopters Ltd includes GKN Westland Industrial Products Ltd at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and has 50 per cent interest in Aerosystems International Ltd at Yeovil (aerospace software; partnership with BAE Systems and EH Industries Ltd. Last-mentioned was formed as partnership with Agusta of Italy for development and manufacture of EH101 Merlin helicopter, last of which for UK armed forces was completed in late 2002. In addition to UK Merlins, Westland building 14 for Denmark and 12 for Portugal.
Under June 1989 agreement with former McDonnell Douglas, Westland obtained co-production rights for Boeing AH-64 Apache; this selected for British Army Air Corps, July 1995; Westland is prime contractor to UK MoD. Production undertaken in newly built 5,200 m² (56,000 sq ft) assembly hall at Yeovil, opened 14 January 1999.
Aviation Training International (ATI) joint venture company formed with Boeing on 3 August 1998 to provide air, ground and maintenance crews for British Army Apaches under £650 million, 30 year contract; began operations 29 July 1999 at Sherborne HQ; is opening branches at Middle Wallop, Dishforth and Wattisham flying bases, plus engineering school at Arborfield.
Support of Sea King, Puma and Gazelle previously undertaken at Weston-super-Mare by Westland Industrial Products Ltd. Plant closure announced in January 2002.