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Leonardo’s helicopter division grew both its revenues and profitability in 2019, thanks to growth in its customer support and training operations and success with military and government programs.
In its newly-released annual results, the company revealed that it recorded €4 billion in revenue last year, which represented a 5.6 percent increase over 2018. While orders dropped from €6.2 billion in 2018 to €4.6 billion in 2019, Leonardo pointed out that the 2018 figure was inflated by a bumper contract for 28 NH90s from Qatar worth €3 billion.
Notable landmarks in the civil sector saw the delivery of the thousandth AW139 in September 2019; while in the military sector, the development of variants for military use (AW169M and AW139M) brought orders from domestic and international markets. Particularly noteworthy was the U.S. Air Force’s choice of the MH-139 (named the Grey Wolf) to replace the fleet of UH-1N Huey. The first of these was delivered in 2019.
In January 2020, Leonardo saw further success with the U.S. Navy awarding the contract for a first lot of 32 TH-73 (AW119) helicopters for training missions.
The year also saw Leonardo continue its work on unmanned aircraft, namely on the HERO (SD-150) helicopter and the SW-4 Solo prototype.
In January 2020, Leonardo acquired Swiss company Kopter, creator of the upcoming light single SH09, and this type will bring Leonardo into an entirely new market segment.
“Thanks to a further enlarged product range Leonardo can consolidate more its role in the civil sector,” the company said in a press release announcing the results. It added that the SH09 will be a “dual-use product” with possible military applications.
Noteworthy orders in 2019 included 23 NH90s from the Spanish Ministry of Defence, four AW101s to the Polish Ministry of Defence, 17 AW139s for the Italian Air Force, five AW139s for the Italian national fire brigades and four AW139s for the fire department in Miami-Dade County.
Growth with military and government programs, and in its customer support and training operations helped offset lower revenues from its civil segment, particularly from the AW109/119 and AW189 lines.
Leonardo said it expected to achieve double-digit profitability and revenue growth in 2020.
However, in a special segment in the release regarding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Leonardo — based near Milan in one the most affected regions of the outbreak — said it had completed “mitigating actions” to preserve business and production continuity, while ensuring the health and safety of employees.
It said the main areas likely to be impacted by the Covid-19 emergency are commercial campaigns; the continuity of supply chain; production times/flows; and the timing and acceptance processes of products/activities by customers.
“Leonardo has made and is making extensive and widespread use of remote working but cannot, at the moment, exclude selective and temporary partial and targeted suspension of operations of certain departments within production sites which by nature do not offer the possibility of remote working,” the company added.