AgustaWestland Hovers Higher On Helicopter Boom

KUALA LUMPUR, 10 Nov - Helicopter ownership is on high demand in Asia Pacific. Industry numbers speak of high growth in the region, making it one of the favourites for helicopterrelated support services.

AgustaWestland Malaysia Sdn Bhd (AW Malaysia), a subsidiary of global hightechnology company Leonardo SpA, is uniquely positioned to capture part of the boom.

AW Malaysia, formerly an operating company under Finmeccanica, is now under Leonardo. Leonardo headquartered in Italy is a major player in the aerospace, defence and security sectors with its Asian headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

As far back as 2008, the Italian-based helicopter company made its presence felt in this region, parking itself in the region to better serve its clients.

In 2008, AW Malaysia, which is wholly owned by Leonardo, had established a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) hub at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang.

Located just outside of Kuala Lumpur, it was a strategic presence for the group. But jobs at hand were outstripping its ability to respond. It was getting a good deal of assignments, pushing the company towards deepening it s presence in Malaysia.

" An expansion was necessary to provide both scheduled and extraordinary maintenance operations to the many fleet in the region. "

AW Malaysia MD Vincenzo Alaimo

Credit :

Since 2013, Asia Pacific has been second to North America for new helicopter deliveries. Operators in the region took up slightly more than a quarter, or 26.4%, of all deliveries, according to a recent report from Flight Ascend Consultancy.

Being present in Malaysia in the Asia Pacific boom translates into an opportunity for the Italian-based company to expand its helicopter complex.

In 2014, the Italian-based helicopter company invested some RM25 million to set up a hangar complex that would serve its clients in South-East Asia.

Located at the Subang Helicopter Centre, the new hangar will serve as an integrated facility that houses the MRO, regional spares distribution centre and a training academy. The facilities at the new hangar will enable them to support more aircraft and advanced helicopters.

Talking about their regular client base, Alaimo said they include operators from both private and government agencies.

“There are many operators in Malaysia and South-East Asia that are served by the Kuala Lumpur facilities. They are private operators who work in support for oil and gas industry, transporting the staff in and offshore,” he added.

Having established in Malaysia for over a decade, Alaimo said the new hangar will increase the company’s operational efficiency. It will also allow the company to “diligently respond” to customer needs.

Besides providing repair and maintenance services, the hangar complex also serves as a training hub.

That part of the story began in 2012 when the company opened a South-East Asian branch called AgustaWestland Training Academy. Now, operated within the new hangar, they intend to create a regional training centre serving as a satellite to the centre in Italy.

With a training centre located in Malaysia, AW Malaysia believes its Asian customers will feel more at home and work within a more familiar culture.

“Our facilities in Kuala Lumpur also serve as one of our training academies for all helicopter-related tasks, from piloting to maintenance.

“It also serves as the most important training centre in Asia, catering to customers from various industries, locally and globally,” said Alaimo.

It does not end there. A training centre in Malaysia also allows them to reduce the logistics of sending customers to their main centre in Italy for training.

“In our activities, the closer the manufacturer is to the operators, the better. Malaysia is extremely convenient to serve a large number of our customers in the region.

“We are already in Malaysia, and being in the middle of Asia, our customers don’t have to travel to Italy or the US for training activities,” he said.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

  • 1. Why did the company come to Malaysia, specifically Kuala Lumpur?

    The company came to Kuala Lumpur after signing a contract for 11 A109 Light Observation Helicopters for the Malaysian Army Aviation in 2003. We wanted to be closer to the Malaysian businesses. The location was also convenient to serve a number of customers located in South-East Asia, with a good balance of connectivity, cost, quality of life and infrastructure.

  • 2. Do you have a specific audience of customers?

    Our customers comprise companies providing services to oil and gas operat ions, government operators and private consumers. Our strength lies exactly in catering to all these different customers and a tailored solution not only for aircraft.

  • 3. How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?

    We certainly have a range of state-of-the-art helicopters in our portfolio, making Leonardo (the parent company) at the forefront of the market. We are also committed to serving our customer, which in return receives their acknowledgement. We are very proud of it.

  • 4. What is your forte in the helicopter industry?

    We design, manufacture and provide lifelong support to thousands of helicopter around the world. South-East Asia is one of the most interesting regions in the world, with a solid growing market for various types of aircraft.

  • 5. Do you have plans to further invest in Malaysia?

    The company is here to stay and we will continue to invest. As for future expansion, we have expanded a lot in the last few years, at this time we have to consolidate.

  • 6. What is next for Agusta-Westland?

    Just earlier this year, we were awarded a contract of replacing the existing Kuala Lumpur Air Traffic Control Centre at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). We will be working closely with Advanced Air Traffic Systems Sdn Bhd and the project will be completed before 2018.

Source: The Malaysian Reserve

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