Airbus has been a strong partner of Italy’s aerospace sector for nearly 50 years. Italy has always proved to be a source of excellent collaboration for all Airbus divisions.
Some 80 Airbus aircraft operate with Italian airlines, and over 240 helicopters, and nearly 90 military aircraft provide battle-winning, surveillance, life-saving capability to the Italian armed services. Italy is an important market, supplier base and source of some of the world’s most innovative technology partners.
Airbus in Italy has more than 160 direct employees, and over 8,000 people working on dedicated supply chain jobs with Italian suppliers across manufacturing, engineering and IT sectors.
Italy’s significant sourcing volumes make it a key country for all three divisions of Airbus: Commercial Aircraft, Helicopters and Defence & Space. Airbus has more than 300 suppliers across the country, making Italy Airbus’ 7th sourcing country in Europe, the third one excluding Airbus home-countries, and the 10th worldwide, with a yearly spend of approx. € 500 million and Leonardo being the number one supplier with approx. € 200 million.
Airbus strongly contributes to Italy’s export capabilities thanks to several fruitful partnerships, which include the turboprop manufacturer ATR, MBDA missile systems, the NH90 military helicopter, the Eurofighter combat plane and the IAMCO NATO’s maintenance contractor. We estimate the export value for those partnerships being more than € 30 billion as of today.
Airbus is committed to offering the most efficient commercial airplanes and world-class services to airlines in Italy.
Italy has been using Airbus products since 1978, when Alitalia placed its first order for eight Airbus A300B4. Since then, Airbus has been the backbone of Italy’s commercial aviation sector, providing the country’s airlines with the most fuel-efficient airplanes.
Up until 2021, Alitalia was Airbus' largest customer in the Italian market, operating approximately 80 Airbus aircraft, including the A330-200 for the long-haul and the A320 Family to serve short- and medium-range destinations.
ITA Airways, Italy's new national carrier, has chosen to operate a fleet entirely composed by Airbus aircraft by signing an order at the end of 2021 for 28 aircraft, including seven A220s, 11 A320neos and 10 A330neos, the latest version of the most popular A330 widebody aircraft. The Italian carrier expects to complement its fleet by leasing up to a further 56 Airbus aircraft including those of the latest generation widebody A350, for a total of 84 aircraft.
Airbus also participates in the Italian governmental activities where 3 Airbus A319CJ integrate the 31st Wing from the Italian Air Force supporting the VIP transport missions.
Airbus Helicopters is present in Italy with a dedicated customer centre in Verona, which aims to assure a long-term and sustainable presence of the manufacturer in the country. The company is also present in Trento with a full-fledged service centre - Helicopters Italia – (https://www.helicoptersitalia.it) which provides first class helicopter maintenance services and it’s one of the two centres in Europe, and the only one in Italy, authorised to carry out level three maintenance activities on Safran Helicopter engines.
Airbus helicopters have been flying in Italy for 50 years and the company is a key player in the Italian helicopter market with 90 customers and a fleet of more than 240 helicopters in service.
Airbus Helicopters’ fleet accounts for 33% of the country’s civil and parapublic in-service fleet, a percentage that reaches 60% when only civil operations are considered. Airbus helicopters are particularly popular in mission segments such as emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue (SAR) and private and business aviation and they are clearly leaders in the aerial work market, where they account for almost the totality of this segment’s helicopter turbine fleet.
Airbus single-engine H125 and twin-engine H145 helicopters are Italy’s preferred Airbus models thanks to their versatility and performance in the country’s mountainous conditions. The H125 is the unrivalled single engine, performing 100% of private operator firefighting operations, while the H145 - with its new and more performant 5-bladed rotor version - is the country’s reference for EMS and SAR missions.
The innovative H160 which will soon enter into service as the benchmark for medium-class helicopters is also very well positioned to capture the Italian promising VIP market, once dominated by the Dauphin model.
Defence and Space
Airbus Defence and Space has a proven portfolio of products and services on offer to Italy. Airbus Italia, part of Airbus Defence and Space, is a leading Italian space company with more than 30 years’ experience in space technologies. It has a recognized expertise in satellite communication, covering space as well as ground segment, with focus on enabling technologies for SatCom on the move, Internet of Things (IoT), RF components and signal processing. Formerly known as Space Engineering, is the local industrial footprint of Airbus Defence and Space since 2015. The company changed its name in 2019 to fully integrate into the Airbus group.
Airbus Italia’s significant experience in design, integration and test is serving key European programs like METOP-Second Generation, QUANTUM, BIOMASS, Galileo, Pléiades NEO and LEO satellite equipment for EDRS ISL. Along its history, the Company also contributed to ARTEMIS, Radarsat 2, COSMO-SkyMed, Alphasat TDP#5 and has been actively involved in major Italian programs such as SICRAL, PLATiNO, ItalGovSatCom. Airbus Italia is a leader in Airborne SatCom technology providing institutional customers with the most advanced state-of-the-art mobile terminals Janus Aero for ISR missions. The ATR P-72A aircraft of Italian Air Force is equipped with Airbus Italia’s Janus antenna, which has also been indicated by Airbus Communication, Intelligence & Security as a powerful solution for “Network For The Sky” (NFTS), successfully integrated with Airbus MRTT aircraft in a flight demonstration of a connected airborne battlespace scenario. Furthermore, the Company can claim a long experience in SatCom terminals for railway applications, having delivered SatCom solutions for high-speed trains throughout Europe (e.g. French TGV trains).
Airbus Italia is a well-known Italian industrial leader, boasting several international patents related to antennas, radars, scientific software and digital signal processing. Its product portfolio also includes Inter-Satellite-Link and payload EO data transmission equipment for Low Earth Orbit satellites, passive and active RF components, antenna radiating elements, ground operational SW for configuration and spectrum monitoring of telecommunication flexible payloads, ground and flight firmware for digital signal processing and modems, key enablers for space-based architectures and secure spacecraft.
Payload Engineering, along with Assembly, Integration and Test capabilities, complete the assets of this European key player across space business, owning a strong heritage in delivering bespoke products and in-house developed products. Its 1,200 m2 Assembly Integration and Test facility is located in Rome, in the Tiburtina area, in the same industrial complex of the Headquarters. The AIT facility is mainly dedicated to the validation and qualification of on-board and ground components, equipment and subsystems for space applications.
Airbus partnerships: a key contributor to Italy exports
Airbus and Italy’s aerospace company Leonardo jointly take part in several extensive cooperation and co-investment aviation and defence world leading programs namely:
- Eurofighter – The Eurofighter Typhoon is a multi-role fighter manufactured by a consortium including Airbus (43%), Leonardo (19,5%) and Bae Systems (37,5%). It is Europe’s largest military cooperation program and involves advanced collaborative technology in areas such as avionics, aerodynamics, materials, manufacturing techniques and engines.
- MBDA - A joint venture between Airbus (37,5%), BAE Systems (37,5%) and Leonardo (25%). The only integrated defence company to provide missiles and missile systems for each branch of the armed forces (air, sea, land).
- NHIndustries – Involving Airbus Helicopters (62,5%), Leonardo (32%) and Fokker Aerostructures (5,5%), it is responsible for the development and production of the NH90 helicopter, designed to meet NATO’s requirements for a modern medium-sized multi-role military helicopter, operable in land and maritime environments.
- ATR – The European turboprop manufacturer ATR is the world leader in the regional aviation market (up to 90 seats). ATR is a joint partnership between Airbus and Leonardo 50/50 shareholding.
- IAMCO – IAMCO acts as the Industrial Prime Contractor for the maintenance of NATO E-3A (AWACS) and Trainer Cargo Aircraft (TCA) fleet. Airbus is one of the four parent companies, along with Leonardo, KLM and Sabena.
Next European sovereignty: EUROMALE
The European MALE RPAS (Medium Altitude Long Endurance, Remotely Piloted Aircraft System), is a joint European programme to answer future UAS requirements.
Considered as a key program, it has been launched by Airbus DS with Leonardo and Dassault Aviation as a joint industrial-government initiative between France, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Managed by European OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation), the MALE RPAS is the first UAS designed for flight in non-segregated airspace and it will be operated worldwide to support ISTAR missions, both wide area and in-theatre.
EuroMALE will provide the European nations with an unmanned aerial system with outstanding operational capabilities, granting the sovereignty they need. Entry-into-service is planned for 2026.