Agusta (now part of AgustaWestland) is an Italian helicopter manufacturer. It is based in the Varese province of Italy, with its main manufacturing plant being at Cascina Costa. It is a subsbidiary of Finmeccanica.
Starting in 1923, the company first designed, produced and maintained fixed wing aircraft at its plant in Cascina Costa.
The Agusta A109 has undoubtedly been the company's biggest success. The A109 is a commercial and military twin turbine helicopter, of which the latest variants are still in production, hundreds having already been sold.
In 1983 the Agusta A129 Mangusta anti-tank helicopter first flew. It was the first attack helicopter to be designed and produced wholly in Europe. Unfortunately this helicopter has not been a great commercial success, the type being only in service with the Italian Army.
The 1980s saw the start of several collaborative projects for Agusta:
- In 1981 Agusta and Westland of Britain started the AgustaWestland EH101 medium-lift naval helicopter project in order to satisfy the requirements of the Royal Navy and the Italian Navy.
- In 1985 the company started a collaborative programme with the aeronautic industries of France, Germany and the Netherlands in order to develop and produce the NHI NH90, a 9-ton twin engine multi-role medium helicopter in order to satisfy the requirements of their respective countries’ armed forces.
In the 1990s several new products based on the A109 were introduced:
- In 1994, the Agusta A109 Power
- In 1995, the Agusta A129 International
- In 1997, the Agusta A119 Koala
- An adition to the Agusta A109 Power is the A109 Power Elite. An improved version of the traditional A109 Power giving more comfort to its passengers and crew.
Agusta became involved in a notorious Belgian bribery scandal when it was revealed that the company had paid the two Belgian socialist parties who were then (1988/1989)in the government to assist the company in getting the contract for attack helicopters for the Belgian army.
In 1998 Agusta formed a joint venture with Bell Helicopter Textron called the Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company. Its aim was to develop the Bell/Agusta AB139 helicopter and the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor aircraft. Bell later withdrew from the AB139 project, which is now known as the AgustaWestland AW139.