Leonardo has reinforced its presence and customer service in US with the opening of a brand new helicopter training academy, located on its existing campus in northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that also includes production, support and administrative functions for the US. The new academy was first announced at the 2019 Heli-Expo in Atlanta, Georgia and, despite the challenges of COVID-19, has been able to open two years later, on schedule.
The new academy in Philadelphia is part of an $80 million investment in US operations that will provide training services for a growing demand and need for pilots, cabin crews and maintenance technicians across North and South America. The training academy in the US will mirror the services provided by its sister facility at Sesto-Calende in Italy, offering ground, air and virtual training, and leverages also simulator capabilities jointly developed by Leonardo and CAE and operated by their Rotorsim JV.
The academy, which is already up and running for customers, features training services for the AW119, AW169, AW139 models and will also be home to the training services for global customers of the first tiltrotor set to receive civil certification, the AW609. The facility strengthens the role of Leonardo as an OEM that has its own capability of designing, developing, delivering, qualifying, supporting and operating the fullest range of academy systems, with certified OEM-data into the simulated environment.
CEO Alessandro Profumo states: “In our sector, only organisations with a clear vision, strategy and consistency in execution can aim for a sustainable long-term business and become strategic assets for their countries. We want to be regarded as a partner, not just a supplier, by continuing to ensure an outstanding service and training experience. And we are integrating these capabilities into our unique helicopter offer with the ambition of becoming the world leader in the sector. Advanced simulation, augmented reality and artificial intelligence, all embedded today in our US academy, are examples of this vision. It can leverage on game-changing technologies we are deploying and on investments in the deep digitalisation of our offer and processes.”
MD Gian Piero Cutillo adds: “Our new US training academy will help to serve the largest market for helicopters in the global industry and will be part of a continued process to guarantee customer proximity and expand our range of offer. We are committed to devoting every possible effort to continuing to build a training culture as part of our value proposition, a true benefit of all our stakeholders, customers and end-users.”
US MD Bill Hunt says the academy was well-planned: “We purposely co-located the academy next to our main production, support and administrative offices because we wanted to not only provide cutting-edge training with modern technology to our customers, but also give them an inside view of our organisation, our culture and how our product is made and maintained with a constant emphasis on quality and safety.”
The first Leonardo Helicopters Training Academy opened at Sesto-Calende in Italy in 2006 and in its inaugural year provided training to 600 students; by the 2018-2020 period, that number grew to an average of 10,000 annually across the growing global training network, which also includes similar facilities in the UK, Poland and Malaysia as well as authorised training centres. The latest step in US confirms Leonardo's commitment to a continued enhancement of the level of customer service.
Since 1980, the helicopter business of Leonardo has been proud to call Philadelphia, Pennsylvania its home in the US. Located at Northeast Philadelphia airport just minutes outside the city's central business district, the facility has grown over the last 40 years from a basic service centre to the Leonardo's US industrial centre of excellence for helicopters.