Leonardo, in a virtual ceremony on April 29, unveiled its latest training facility in Philadelphia, the first in the United States. It joins factory training facilities in Italy, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom.
The $80 million training expansion took six years to develop and is the latest investment in the Italian manufacturer’s U.S. base of operations. What began as more or less a service center has morphed into a complete engineering, testing, manufacturing, and now training facility. “Philadelphia is now a true center of excellence and not just a manufacturing site,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, the managing director of Leonardo.
The expansion has been a long time coming for Leonardo, as the United States represents its biggest market. The decision to expand in Philadelphia reflects the market size, a desire to be closer to the customer base, and partially an acknowledgement of the importance of the forthcoming AW609 program. The new Philadelphia training facility will be the only place pilots and maintenance technicians can learn to fly and maintain the tiltrotor.
Roger Woods, chief flight instructor of Leonardo, pointed to the company’s high-caliber instruction and FAA-Industry Training Standards acceptance as key selling points.