Firm celebrates 100 years of aircraft manufacturing in the UK

Posted on 15 Jul 2015 by Jonny Williamson

Finmeccanica-AgustaWestland is today celebrating the centenary of the formation of the Westland Aircraft Works in Yeovil and the many aeronautical achievements that have been made during 100 years of continuous aircraft manufacturing on the site.

Established in 1915, Westland has produced many famous fixed wing aircraft designs such as the Whirlwind, Welkin, Wapiti, Lysander before focussing on helicopter production and later on its own designs such as the Lynx and AW101.

In 2001, AgustaWestland was formed with the bringing together of two major players in the aviation sector and since 2004 has been wholly owned by Finmeccanica.

In 2007 Agusta celebrated its centenary and now in 2015, Westland has achieved the same historic aviation milestone.

Today, 100 years after building the first Short Type 184 seaplane, the Yeovil factory is at the forefront of rotorcraft technology – designing, developing and manufacturing the latest generation of rotorcraft for military and commercial applications.

AgustaWestland – key points:

  • A Westland Wapiti was the first aircraft to ever fly over mount Everest
  • In 1986 a Westland Lynx set a new world helicopter speed record that is still held today
  • AgustaWestland ranks 2nd in the world for the production of military helicopters
  • More than 3,200 people are employed at the Yeovil site
  • The site supports a further 6,800 jobs in the supply chain
  • Unique UK capability for the design, development, manufacture and support of rotorcraft
  • A key asset for the company’s global business

Yeovil is currently home to final assembly lines for the Super Lynx 300, AW159 and AW101 heli­copters as well as the new generation AW189 civil helicopter.

It’s also the main provider of helicopters to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and delivers Integrated Operational Support (IOS) and training services for the MoD’s Apache AH Mk.1; Merlin; Sea King, and AW159 Wildcat helicopter fleets.

In recent years the Yeovil site has expanded its involvement in commercial helicopter programmes, in particular with the AW Family of new generation helicopters which comprise the AW139, AW169 and AW189.

The AW189 is the first civil aircraft to be built in Yeovil since the mid-1980s, while rotor blades and transmission systems are manufactured for all three members of the AW Family of helicopters.

In 2015 Finmeccanica-AgustaWestland’s Yeovil site is at the very forefront of the rotorcraft industry and at the heart of UK advanced manufacturing, building some of the world’s most advanced military and commercial helicopters for customers around the world.

AgustaWestland in Yeovil is the home to several ‘centres of excellence’ that are designing and manufacturing the very latest rotorcraft rotor & transmission systems and integrating complex avionic & mission systems.