Leonardo AW169
Leonardo AW169 (@ Aviation Report Archive / Stefano Monteleone)

Leonardo inaugurates the Training Academy for helicopters in the United States

Leonardo announced a further major reinforcement of its presence and customer service and technologies in US with the official opening of their brand new, state of the art Helicopter Training Academy, located on their existing campus in northeast Philadelphia that also includes production, support and administrative functions for the United States. The new Academy was first announced at the 2019 Heli-Expo in Atlanta and, despite the challenges of Covid-19, was able to open two years later, on schedule.

The new Academy in Philadelphia is part of an $80 million investment in United States 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 in Sesto-Calende (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 world’s first tiltrotor set to receive civil certification, the AW609. This one of a kind Academy strengthens the role of Leonardo as the only helicopter OEM that has an own capability of designing, developing, delivering, qualifying, supporting and operating the fullest range of Training Systems, with certified OEM-data into the simulated environment.

The US Academy also provides training for maintenance personnel, with on sight maintenance trainers and tools. The main features of this new training location are: 

  • 10 multi-media classrooms, sized for both intimate and large group training, equipped with the latest technology, designed to provide interactive 2D/3D graphic content
  • Three maintenance simulators, one AW139, one AW119 and soon one AW609
  • Two full-flight motion simulators, one AW139 and one AW169/AW609 with roll-on/roll-off capability. Jointly developed by Leonardo and CAE and operated by their Rotorsim JV, the simulators provide realistic training for specific missions, including off-shore, law enforcement, EMS and passenger transport. Additionally, an empty bay exists to allow the addition of a third full flight simulator to be added in the future to be based on demand
  • Special amenities for students to either take a break and mentally recharge through meditation and thoughtful reflection in a quiet, dedicated room – or ramp up their endorphins utilizing exercise equipment in gym that includes locker rooms and showers for customer convenience.

Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo CEO, said: “In our sector, only organizations 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 integrate these capabilities into our unique helicopter offer with the ambition of becoming the world leader in the sector. Advanced simulation, augmented reality, 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 digitalization of our offer and processes.

Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters MD, added: “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 continue to build a training culture as part of our value proposition, a true benefit of all our stakeholders, customers, end-users.

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 organization, our culture, and how our product is made and maintained with a constant emphasis on quality and safety” said Bill Hunt, CEO of AgustaWestland Philadelphia Corporation and Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters US.

I want to congratulate Leonardo Helicopters on completing their new Training Academy in the US at their existing production and support campus at Northeast Philadelphia Airport. I am proud of the role this Philadelphia-based team has played in bringing this Academy online, together with their teammates in Italy”, said Jim Kenney, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia.

The first Leonardo Helicopter Training Academy opened in Sesto-Calende (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 also including similar facilities in the United Kingdom, Poland and Malaysia as well as authorized 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 United States. Located at Northeast Philadelphia Airport (KPNE) just minutes outside the Central Business District, the facility has grown over the last 40 years from a basic service center to the Leonardo’s US Industrial Center of Excellence for helicopters.

Leonardo is committed to providing leading, comprehensive support and training services to deliver unprecedented benefits to customers in terms of safety, quality, effectiveness, cost, and sustainability as a cornerstone of Leonardo’s Be Tomorrow 2030 Strategic Plan.