Major Aircraft Manufacturers

Airbus ACJ319 In-Flight
Founded: 1970
HQ: Toulouse, France
Top Executive: Guillaume Faury (CEO)
Employees: 135,000
Phone: +33 5 81 31 75 00

Airbus

Airbus is a European multinational aerospace conglomerate headquartered in Toulouse, France. The company traces its roots to the formation of the Airbus Industrie GIE consortium in 1970 and is the result of decades of European aerospace consolidation efforts designed to compete with American defense and aerospace monoliths.

The company launched its first passenger jet, the A300, in 1972. The A300 was a revolutionary aircraft; it was not only the world's first widebody twin-engine passenger jet but also marked the initial offering from what would become Europe's largest aerospace and defense company.

The years following the launch of the A300 program were marked by intensive consolidation and further aircraft development, with the release of the A300B2 (1974), the Tornado multi-role combat jet (1974), the A310 (1982), and the ubiquitous A320 family of jets (1987). In 1991, Airbus launched the ultra-long-range A340 four-engine passenger jet, and the A330 followed in 1992. Additional fixed-wing developments in the 1990s included the launch of the A300-600 Beluga transporter (1994), the first flight of the Eurofighter (1994), the standing-up of Airbus Industrie's Large Aircraft Division and development of the A3XX (1996), and the first flight of the C295 (1997).

Airbus forayed into the corporate jet market in 1997 with the release of the A319 Corporate Jet. The A320 family was an easy first choice for the development of a VIP transport aircraft, but offerings across the Airbus product line have emerged over the decades. As of 2020, the Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) business unit offers the ACJ TwoTwenty, ACJ319neo, ACJ320neo, ACJ330neo, and ACJ350 XWB. ACJ330 and ACJ320 aircraft are now exclusively offered with the New Engine Option (neo), which provides customers with a choice between the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G and CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

Airbus has delivered close to 13,000 aircraft since the launch of the A300. The company maintains roughly 180 global locations and employs just under 135,000 people worldwide.

Founded: 1992
HQ: Marignane, France
Top Executive: Bruno Even (CEO)
Employees: 20,000
Phone: +33 (0)4 42 85 85 85

Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters is the rotorcraft wing of Airbus, Europe's largest aerospace and defense conglomerate. The company was founded in 1992 as Eurocopter Group, after a merger between the helicopter divisions of Aérospatiale and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA).

Airbus Helicopters has been a pioneer in rotorcraft development for decades. Legacy company Aérospatiale developed the world's first turboshaft-powered helicopter in 1955, the Alouette II, as well as the "Fenestron" shrouded tail rotor design, which debuted on the Gazelle in 1968. In both civil and military applications, Airbus helicopters have proven to be best sellers with a reputation for ruggedness and durability. They sport features such as full flight capabilities in icing conditions and fly-by-light digital flight controls. Airbus helicopter variants have also accomplished high-profile feats never attempted by other rotorcraft, such as the 2005 landing of an AS350 B3 at the peak of Mt. Everest.

Eurocopter was officially rebranded as Airbus Helicopters in 2014, after 22 years of operation as Eurocopter SA and Eurocopter SAS. Rotorcraft names were changed across the board, with each receiving a new numerical designation with an "H" prefix.

The Airbus Helicopters product line includes entries in the intermediate-single segment (H125 and H130), light-twin segment (H135, H145), medium and super-medium segments (H155, H160, H175), and heavy segment (H215, H225). In 2017, Airbus Helicopters announced the launch of the Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) business unit, a luxury corporate helicopter development wing mirrored after the successful Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) model. ACH offers up-market VIP variants of the H125, H130, H135, H145, H160, and H175, positioning an offering in every segment from intermediate single to super-medium. Cabin configurations and design characteristics are customizable to consumer preference, and most feature extended ranges over their base-model counterparts.

Airbus Helicopters employs roughly 20,000 people worldwide and is headquartered at the Marseille Provence Airport in Marignane, France.

 
Beechcraft KingAir 350i
Founded: 1932
HQ: Wichita, Kansas
Top Executive: W.W. (Bill) Boisture Jr. (CEO)
Employees: 8,000
Phone: 1 (316) 517-8270

Beechcraft

Beechcraft develops and manufactures general aviation, commercial, and military aircraft. A Textron brand since 2014, Beechcraft’s aircraft line ranges from light single-engined aircraft to military trainers, with a strong market presence in the twin-turboprop segment.

In 1932, Walter Beech founded the Beech Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kansas. The company’s initial offering, the Model 17 Staggerwing, was first flown in November, 1932, and would go on to sell over 750 civilian-market units through its production run. In a first for the commercial aviation world, the Model 17 had a top speed of 200mph. 

As Beechcraft was founded in the years preceding the build up for the Second World War, Walter Beech quickly found his company participating in military aircraft production. The company would eventually produce more than 7,400 aircraft for the U.S. military and its allies, which included the AT-11 Kansan. Roughly 90 percent of the 45,000 USAAF bombardiers who flew in the Second World War trained on AT-11s. 

After the war, the market for civilian aircraft continued to expand. Beechcraft replaced the ageing Model 17 Staggerwing with the revolutionary Bonanza in 1947. The aircraft holds the title for longest production run in history, and is still manufactured today. 

Olive Ann Beech, Walter’s wife, assumed control of the company after Walter’s passing in 1950. Over the following three decades, Beechcraft would launch the legendary Baron (1960) and King Air (1964) aircraft, both of which remain in production. In February, 1980, the company was purchased by Raytheon, and the 1982 appointment of Linden Blue as Beechcraft’s CEO marked the end of 50 years of Beech family management. Raytheon merged Beechcraft with the Hawker product line in 1994, and the brand was renamed Hawker Beechcraft after Raytheon sold its Raytheon Aircraft brand to Goldman Sachs in 2006. 

Trials resulting from the 2008 recession and prior missteps forced then-Hawker Beechcraft to file for bankruptcy protections in 2012. Textron, parent company of long-time competitor Cessna, purchased the reconstituted Beechcraft Corp. in 2014. 

Beechcraft currently produces the King Air, Baron and Bonanza lines, with four King Air variants offering travel ranges between 1,260nm and 2,692nm. Cessna and Beechcraft constitute the Textron Aviation division.

 
Founded: 1935
HQ: Fort Worth
Top Executive: Mitch Snyder (president and CEO)
Employees: 8,000
Phone: (817) 280-2011

Bell

Bell, a subsidiary of Textron, is an American aerospace manufacturer that has developed both civilian and military aircraft and rotorcraft since 1935. Lawrence Dale Bell founded the original company, Bell Aircraft Corporation, in Buffalo, New York. Best known as Bell Helicopter, or simply Bell, the company now specializes in rotorcraft development and manufacturing.

In its early years, the company focused on the development of fighter aircraft. Bell's founding coincided with the build-up for World War II, and the company consequently developed aircraft such as the XFM-1 Airacuda and P-39 Airacobra during the war years. The Bell P-59 Airacomet, the first American jet-powered fighter, took its first flight in 1942 but was never adopted for service.

In 1941, Bell hired engineer Arthur M. Young, who would provide the knowledge and innovative spirit required for the development of the company's first helicopters. Bell's initial civilian-certified offering, the Bell 47, first took flight in December 1942, marking the beginning of a long and illustrious development path that continues to this day.

Textron purchased Bell, then known as Bell Aerospace, in 1960, just after the introduction of the Bell 204. This turboshaft-powered helicopter was the first in the line of ubiquitous Huey-family rotorcraft and was designed initially to meet the U.S. Army's requirements for a utility rotorcraft. In the military role, the type was designated the HU-1 and later UH-1. The image of the Huey family is intrinsically connected to the rotorcraft's enormous involvement in the Vietnam War, where it served with both the U.S. Army and Marine Corps through the conflict's entire duration. The combat-tested reputation of the UH-1 translated into strong civilian sales of the 204 and 205 models, and later into sales of the 212, 214, 214ST, 407, 412, and more.

In 1976, Textron rebranded the Bell Helicopter division as Bell Helicopter Textron. This designation remained until 2018 when the company was officially renamed Bell.

Currently, Bell manufactures the 505, 407, 429, 412, and 525 rotorcraft for the civilian market. Maximum passenger counts range from four in the 505 to 16 in the 525. Bell employs roughly 8,000 people and is headquartered in Fort Worth.

 
Boeing Business Jet
Founded: 1916
HQ: Seattle
Top Executive: Dave Calhoun (president and CEO)
Employees: 153,000
Phone: (312) 544-2000

Boeing

The Boeing Company is an American multinational defense and aerospace manufacturing organization and is one of the largest defense contractors in the world based on dollar value. It maintains offerings across the aerospace realm, manufacturing aircraft, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, and communications equipment for both civilian and military clients.

Lumber industrialist William Boeing founded the company in 1916 in Seattle. Originally named the Pacific Aero Products Co., it designed its first aircraft in the same year: the B&W Seaplane (named for its joint development by Boeing and Conrad Westervelt). The company was renamed Boeing Airplane Company in 1917 and Boeing Airplane & Transport Corporation in 1928.

By the close of the 1920s, Boeing had found success in the aerospace market and acquired several aircraft makers, such as Sikorsky Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, Avion, Chance Vought, and Hamilton Metalplane. Following these acquisitions, Boeing Airplane & Transport Corporation became United Airplane & Transport Corporation. The venture lasted until 1934 when regulatory mandates forced the separation of air transport and aircraft manufacturing. Three major groups emerged from the disbanding of the United Airplane & Transport Corporation: Boeing Airplane Company, United Aircraft, and United Airlines. United Aircraft would eventually become United Technologies.

Boeing became one of the largest aerospace companies in the world after its merger with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. In 2018, Boeing completed its largest acquisition since 1997, with a $4.25 billion purchase of aerospace parts distributor KLX Inc.

Boeing's civil aircraft offerings include the 737, 747, 767, 777, and 787. The 737 has been a bestseller since its first flight in 1967, with more than 10,500 deliveries to date. The company's civilian aircraft division, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, also produces the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) series. Narrowbody models of the BBJ are based on variants of the 737, while widebody models include offerings based on the 747, 777, and 787 platforms. These aircraft compete primarily with the Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) line.

Boeing employs more than 153,000 people in over 65 countries, making it one of the world's largest defense employers.

 
Bombardier
Founded: 1942
HQ: Montréal
Top Executive: Éric Martel (President and CEO)
Employees: 60,000
Phone: (514) 861-9481

Bombardier

A division of Bombardier Aviation (formerly Bombardier Aerospace), owned by Canadian industrial conglomerate Bombardier, Inc., Bombardier Business Aircraft manufacturers and provides ancillary support for Learjets, Challengers, and Globals, spanning the light to ultra-long-range jet categories.

In 1942 Joseph-Armand Bombardier, a Canadian inventor/entrepreneur, established a company to market his “snow vehicle,” or snowmobile. Four decades later, in 1986, Bombardier, Inc. expanded into aerospace, acquiring Canadair, which had developed the Challenger 600 series business jet (which begat Canadair Regional Jets). In 1989, Bombardier bought Northern Ireland’s Short Brothers; in 1990, it acquired the Learjet Corporation, whose midsize Learjet 60 first flew later that year; and in 1992, it purchased a majority stake in De Havilland Aircraft of Canada. The first of its ultra-long-range Global family, the Express, flew in 1996, followed by the Challenger 300 in 2001.

In 2014, amidst parent-company losses, Bombardier Business Aircraft became a Bombardier Aerospace division, as did the conglomerate’s commercial aircraft business. In 2017, Bombardier partnered with Airbus to market its resource-draining C Series commercial jets, and the following year it sold the Q Series commercial turboprop program, and its Business Aircraft Training division, to focus on business aircraft, aerostructures, and other transportation-segment opportunities. 

In December 2018 the flagship Global 7500 entered service. More than 4,700 Bombardier business aircraft are now in operation worldwide.

The company's business jets include Learjets (Lear 70/75 light jets); Challengers (CL350 super-mid, CL650 large cabin); and ultra-long-range Globals (Global 5000, 5500, 6000, 6500, 7500, 8000). (The Global 8000 remains a program of record; its future is unclear.)

Bombardier-owned and -authorized service facilities and mobile response teams provide global assistance from AOG recovery to major repairs, overhauls, and interior refurbishments. The company also buys, takes in trade, and sells preowned Bombardier aircraft.

Cessna Citation XLS
Founded: 1927
HQ: Wichita, Kansas
Top Executive: Ron Draper (President and CEO)
Employees: 9,000
Phone: 1.316.517.8270

Cessna

Cessna is now a brand employed by Textron Aviation for a product line that ranges from Citation business jets to Caravan turboprops and single-engine piston airplanes. 

When it was established as the Cessna-Roos Company in 1927, cofounder Clyde Cessna had already launched several failed aircraft manufacturing ventures (in partnership with fellow aviation pioneers Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman, among others). The business began to achieve success only after nephews Dwane and Dwight Wallace bought out Clyde in 1935. 

Cessna’s first business jet, the Citation I (Cessna 500), created to compete with the Learjet, first flew 50 years ago, in 1969. A decade later, Citations were the world’s bestselling business jets. In the 1980s, under CEO Russell Meyer, Cessna pioneered aircraft leasing and fleet sales.

In 1985 General Dynamics bought Cessna, which it then sold to current owner Textron in 1992. (General Dynamics bought Gulfstream Aerospace in 1999.) Cessna became a Textron Aviation brand in 2014. (Beechcraft also became a Textron brand that year, and Bell, formerly Bell Helicopter, is now part of Textron, as well.)

Cessna currently sells seven models, ranging from the small-cabin Citation M2 to the soon-to-be-certified super-midsize Citation Longitude, scheduled to enter service this year. The company’s first large-cabin jet, the Citation Hemisphere, is in a holding pattern while issues with the Snecma Silvercrest engines chosen to power the aircraft are addressed. The single-engine Denali and twin-engine SkyCourier turboprops are slated for their first flights this year. Since they entered service in 1973 more than 7,000 Citations have been produced. The Citation X/X+, which ended production last year, held the distinction of being the world’s fastest civilian production aircraft.

Dassault Falcon 8X
Founded: 1929
HQ: Paris
Top Executive: Éric Trappier (Chairman and CEO)
Employees: 12,700
Phone: +33 (0) 1 47 11 40 00

Dassault

Dassault Aviation, a division of France’s Dassault Group, manufactures Falcon business jets, known for their performance efficiency and technically advanced systems, as well as military aircraft, 3D CAD/CAM engineering systems, and ancillary aerospace products.

Founded by aeronautical engineer Maurice Dassault (née Bloch) in 1929, the company had a rich history of military and civil aircraft production before it entered the business aviation market, but it abandoned its first design, 1954’s Méditerranée twinjet, for cost and fuel consumption reasons. Acting on Charles Lindbergh’s recommendation, Pan Am founder Juan Trippe ordered 40 Falcon 20 twinjets, Dassault’s first production business jet, for U.S. distribution, with deliveries commencing in 1965. To provide factory support for its jets, Dassault established what is now Dassault Falcon Service in 1967.

Federal Express launched its delivery service in 1972 with a Falcon 20 fleet, and Dassault and Pan Am jointly formed Falcon Jet Corp. to service and sell Falcons that same year. The Falcon 50, Dassault’s first production trijet and first civil aircraft with a composite control surface (the aileron), was certified in 1979, and the following year Dassault acquired Pan Am’s stake in Falcon Jet Corp. (renamed Dassault Falcon Jet Corp. in the mid-1990s). The 900 trijet series entered service in 1986, and the Falcon 2000 midsize twinjet joined the fleet in 1995, with both aircraft undergoing upgrades under new model designations in the years since.

Using its own CATIA system—now the industry standard—Dassault began designing aircraft exclusively on 3D CAD/CAM computers in 2000. Business aviation revenues exceeded military sales for the first time in 2005.

The ultra-long-range Falcon 7X trijet, the first fly-by-wire business jet, entered service in 2007, and its Enhanced Flight Vision System was certified in 2010. The follow-on, longer-range 8X entered service in 2016. Falcon unveiled a super-midsize Falcon 5X in 2013, but it canceled the program in 2017 due to development problems with the Snecma Silvercrest engines. In 2018, the airframer debuted the derivative Falcon 6X, slated for service entry in 2022.

Dassault's product line includes the Falcon 2000LXS super-mid twinjet, Falcon 900LX large-cabin trijet, and Falcon 7X and 8X ultra-long-range trijets. The company has service centers and satellite facilities in the U.S., France, Italy, Russia, Brazil, and Africa.

 

Embraer Praetor 600
Founded: 1969
HQ: São Paulo
Top Executive: Francisco Gomes Neto (President and CEO)
Employees: 19,000
Phone: +55 12 3927 1000

Embraer Executive Aircraft

A division of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer Executive Aircraft produces business jets spanning the light- to large-cabin categories.

Seeking to expand beyond its civil and military markets, in the mid-1990s Brazil’s Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (Embraer) embarked on a business jet development program, and in 2000 the airframer introduced the Legacy 600. Based on Embraer’s ERJ 145 regional jet, the Legacy 600 entered service in 2002, and with prospects bright, the company established Embraer Executive Jets (EEJ) in 2005 and introduced the clean-sheet Phenom 100 VLJ and Phenom 300 light jets that same year. The flagship Lineage 1000, a 19-passenger derivative of its E190 airliner, bowed in 2006.

EEJ brought fly-by-wire to midsize jets with the launch of the Legacy 450 and 500 in 2008, and it opened service centers in Mesa, Arizona, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida that same year. The Legacy 650, an upgraded, longer-range derivative of the Legacy 600, debuted in 2009. A vote of confidence came in 2010 with a firm order from fractional fleet operator NetJets for 50 Phenom 300s and options on an additional 75—a deal worth more than $1 billion.

EEJ began assembling Phenom 100s at a new facility in Melbourne, Florida in 2011; it brought the assembly of Phenom 300s to the site in the same year and started making Legacy 450/500s there in 2016.

A fleet-refreshment program begat the Lineage 1000E (Enhanced), with upgraded cabin, cockpit, and range (2013); the Phenom 100E, with multifunction spoilers (2014) and 100EV (Evolution), with upgraded powerplant and avionics (2016); the Legacy 650E, adding synthetic vision and auto-throttle (2016); and the Phenom 300E, with new interior and avionics (2017). Meanwhile, fractional fleet operator Flexjet added the Phenom 300 to its program in 2014, and the Legacy 450 and 500 in 2016.

Embraer offers VLJ/light aircraft (Phenom 100EV/300E), midsize/super-midsize models (Legacy 450/500/650E, Praetor 500/600), and large-cabin (Lineage 1000E) business jets.

Founded: 1958
HQ: Savannah, Georgia
Top Executive: Mark Burns (President)
Employees: 13,000
Phone: (800) 810-4853

Gulfstream

Gulfstream Aerospace focuses on the large-cabin market, manufacturing business jets capable of intercontinental operations. The company, a division of U.S. defense contractor General Dynamics, also provides sales and refurbishment services for preowned Gulfstream aircraft.

The company was established in 1958 as an outgrowth of Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co., which developed the Gulfstream 1, a 12-passenger turboprop business aircraft. The success of that model led to the jet-powered Gulfstream II. In 1966, Grumman moved its civil-aircraft production to Savannah, Georgia; and in 1978, the Gulfstream line and Savannah plant were purchased by American Jet Industries, headed by Allen Paulson, and its name changed to Gulfstream American. 

In the 1980s, the GIII came to market; the company’s name changed again, this time to Gulfstream Aerospace; Chrysler bought the company; and the Gulfstream IV was introduced. At the end of the 1980s, Paulson repurchased Gulfstream with private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. The 1990s brought Gulfstream’s first sales contract with NetJets, the introduction of the GV, and in 1999, the company’s purchase by General Dynamics.

In the 2000s, Gulfstream bought Galaxy Aerospace, developing its midsize jets into the G100 and G200, and purchased its first service facility outside the U.S. Gulfstream also introduced the G550 and G650 and brought Enhanced Vision Systems and internet connectivity to business aircraft. This decade saw the introduction of the 650ER and the G500 and G600 super-midsize jets.

The product line includes the G280, a super-midsize model introduced in 2008 with 3,000-nautical-mile range; G550, a large-cabin, ultra-long-range jet seating up to 18 passengers with a PlaneView flight deck; G500/600, a pair of long-range jets introduced in 2014 that feature the Symmetry Flight Deck and fly-by-wire flight controls; and G650/650ER, the flagship ultra-long-range jets, with 7,000- and 7,500-nautical-mile ranges, respectively. 

Gulfstream operates a global network of service centers for maintenance and repairs. It refurbishes its aircrafts’ interiors at a purpose-built facility in Savannah.

HondaJet In Flight
Founded: 2006
HQ: Greensboro, North Carolina
Top Executive: Michimasa Fujino (President and CEO)
Employees: 1,500
Phone: (336) 662-0246

Honda Aircraft

U.S.-based Honda Aircraft Company manufacturers the HA-420 HondaJet. The light twinjet features a patented over-the-wing engine mount as well as turbofans that the airframer’s parent, Japan’s Honda Motor Company, developed in partnership with General Electric.

Honda Aircraft grew out of a U.S.-based research project on light airplanes and jet engines that started in 1986 and was led by young aeronautical engineer Michimasa Fujino. The program progressed in 1988 to airframe development and in 1993 to flight tests of the MH-02—claimed to be the first all-composite business jet—before Honda ended it in 1996 following a financial collapse in Japan.

Back in that country, Fujino awoke one night in 1997, seized by a vision, and sketched out his novel over-the-wing engine-mount design. Following fortuitous encounters with senior managers, Honda Motor Company launched the HondaJet project later that year. The program gathered momentum with the establishment of a research facility in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2001; the first successful test flight of the all-composite HondaJet prototype in 2003; and establishment of the joint venture GE Honda Aero Engines to develop turbofans for the aircraft in 2004.

The HondaJet debuted at the 2005 EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and Honda Aircraft was officially established the following year with Fujino at the helm. The company began taking orders at the 2006 National Business Aviation Association convention, booking more than 100 delivery positions. 

Following six additional years of development (three more than initially planned), production of HA-420 HondaJets commenced at the company’s purpose-built Greensboro factory in 2012. Then came FAA certification of the HF120 turbofan powerplant (2013), first flight of a production model (2014), and finally FAA type certification and first HondaJet delivery (December 2015). Introduction of the HondaJet Elite, an enhanced version of the HA-420, and a retrofit upgrade package for in-service HondaJets followed in 2018, along with certification by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.

In 2017 and 2018, the model was the world’s most-delivered light jet. 

Besides producing the HA420 HondaJet Elite light twinjet, the company offers HondaJet maintenance and upgrades at its Greensboro factory maintenance facility.

Leonardo AW189
Founded: 1948
HQ: Rome
Top Executive: Alessandro Profumo (CEO)
Employees: 49,500
Phone: +39 06 324731

Leonardo

Leonardo is an Italian multinational aerospace and defense organization headquartered in Rome. It is one of the world's largest global defense contractors and manufactures a wide variety of rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft for both civil and military applications. 

Formerly Finmeccanica, Leonardo was founded in 1948 as the mechanical engineering division of the state-run Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI). Agusta represented the rotorcraft branch of the business, which began developing and manufacturing helicopters in 1952 under license from Bell. 

Agusta first flew the A109 in 1976. A lightweight, twin-engined utility helicopter, the A109 has proven to be the company’s best-seller and is still manufactured today.

Leonardo’s legacy companies underwent frequent reorganizations, mergers, and divestments from 1960 through the 1980s. In 1992, Agusta became a partner in NHIndustries, a joint venture between Eurocopter and Fokker. This trio went on to develop the NH-90 helicopter. In 2000, Finmeccanica and British manufacturer GKN agreed to merge their rotorcraft production branches (Agusta and GKN-Westland Helicopters), forming AgustaWestland. Originally a 50/50 merger, Finmeccanica acquired GKN’s share of the venture in 2004, becoming the sole owner of the AgustaWestland brand. 

Finmeccanica was restructured into seven business units in 2014 and changed its name to Leonardo on Jan. 1, 2017.

Leonardo currently produces the AW109, AW119, AW139, AW169, and AW189 for civilian applications, with several military rotorcraft such as the SW4 and AW109M rounding out the company’s helicopter line. 

Leonardo employs roughly 49,500 people in more than 150 global locations.

MD 500E
Founded: 1955
HQ: Mesa, Arizona
Phone: (480) 346-6300

MD Helicopters

MD Helicopters traces its roots back to 1955 when the Hughes Tool Company's Aircraft Division began studying and developing light helicopters. After more than six decades and a series of mergers and divestments, it was recapitalized as an independent company in 2005. Since then, the light rotorcraft manufacturer has grown its global fleet presence to more than 2,500 operational aircraft.

Early civilian rotorcraft produced by the Aircraft Division included the Hughes 269, 300, 500, and 530F. After successes in both the civil and military rotorcraft domains, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter chiefly among them, Hughes sold its helicopters division to McDonnell Douglas in 1984. In 1997, McDonnell Douglas and Boeing merged their businesses, becoming the Boeing Company. 

Only two years later, in 1999, Boeing sold the commercial rotorcraft lines formerly produced by McDonnell Douglas to MD Helicopter Holdings, an umbrella company of Dutch RDM Holding. While Boeing retained production of the AH-64 and rights to the NOTAR no tail rotor system, MD Helicopter Holdings now owned production of the MD 500E, 530F, 520N, and 600N, as well as the MD Explorer series of twin-engine rotorcraft.

In July 2005, Lynn Tilton, the founder and then owner of Patriarch Partners, LLC, acquired MD Helicopter Holdings. That same year, MD Helicopters was officially recapitalized, with a headquarters in Mesa, Arizona.

In early 2020, Tilton relinquished control of MD Helicopters and other portfolio companies of Patriarch Partners following rulings by a Delaware bankruptcy court. MD is continuing normal operations.

Civilian rotorcraft currently in production include the MD 500E, 530F, 520N, 600N, and MD 902 Explorer. The 500 series—derived from the OH-6 military rotorcraft—is the company’s strongest seller, with variants in service in both military and civilian roles.

 
Nextant Aerospace 400XT
Founded: 2007
HQ: Cleveland
Top Executive: Kenneth C. Ricci (Chairman)
Employees: 1,600
Phone: (216) 261-9000

Nextant Aerospace

Nextant Aerospace, which is based in Cleveland, specializes in the remanufacturing of business jets and turboprops. Kenneth C. Ricci founded the business in 2007.

Nextant, which is credited as the first American company focused exclusively on reselling modified business aircraft, introducing the 400XT, an upgraded Beechjet 400A/XP (Hawker 400), in 2010. The type was certified by the FAA in 2011, and the first Nextant 400XT was delivered in 2013.

In the same year, Nextant launched the G90XT program, a tip-to-tail remanufacturing of Beechcraft King Air C90 twin-engine turboprops. The remanufactured aircraft first flew in 2015 and received final FAA certification in 2018.

Nextant launched the 604XT program in 2017, this time using a Bombardier Challenger 604 as the base for remanufacturing. This is the company’s largest offering in terms of cabin size and range, and it has proven to be an attractive offering since its first delivery in late 2018.

Remanufactured aircraft often provide significant cost savings over new-build models of the same type, while not sacrificing performance, capabilities, or comfort. Nextant Aerospace has developed three offerings since its founding, each of which builds off of aircraft with a strong sales history. This allows for the inexpensive procurement of airframes from a large feedstock, further driving down the overall price a client will eventually pay for a remanufactured aircraft. 

Nextant Aerospace also provides service to military customers. Such programs include cockpit upgrades and associated support equipment for USAF T-1A trainers, as well as various upgrades to USAF T-6 trainers and USN C-26 aircraft.

 
Founded: 1884
HQ: Genoa, Italy
Top Executive: Renato Vaghi (CEO)
Phone: +39 0182 267911

Piaggio

In 1884, Italian engineer Rinaldo Piaggio founded the Rinaldo Piaggio S.p.A. The company was originally involved in the manufacturing of rolling stock for the development of Italy's railway system, as well as the outfitting of ocean liners. In 1915, amidst the opening years of the First World War, the company designed and manufactured its first-ever production aircraft.

Piaggio found its first major airborne success in 1922, with the release of the Piaggio P.1. Rinaldo Piaggio, by then an Italian senator, died in 1938 after decades of innovation. The Piaggio P.108 heavy bomber, the company’s first four-engined aircraft, was released that same year.

During the Second World War, Piaggio’s manufacturing facilities were mostly demolished by Allied bombing. Rinaldo Piaggio’s sons, Enrico (inventor of the Vespa scooter) and Armando, were instrumental in the revitalization and expansion of the brand that took place over the subsequent decades. 

In 1957, Piaggio developed its first utility aircraft, the P.166. Three years later, the company built its first jet-powered aircraft, the PD.808 VIP transporter, after securing the production license of the Rolls-Royce Viper turbojet. The PD.808 was developed by a joint venture between Piaggio and the Douglas Aircraft Company. In 1986, the company released the P.180 Avanti, which was designed to appeal to a prospective Fortune 500 clientele. This design remains in production as the Piaggio Avanti Evo. 

After Piaggio filed for bankruptcy in 1998, the Turkish holding company Tushav took majority control of it, rebranding the company as Piaggio Aero Industries. Tushav relinquished its position in the company in 2000, with the Di Mase and Ferrari families taking ownership thereafter. The Mubadala Development Company acquired a 35 percent stake in Piaggio Aero Industries in 2006, which was followed by a one-third stake acquisition by the Tata Group, an Indian multinational conglomerate. Mubadala increased its ownership position to 85.5 percent in 2013, and acquired full ownership in 2015. During that time, Piaggio Aero Industries was rebranded as Piaggio Aerospace.  

The Piaggio Aerospace brand declared itself insolvent in 2018 and was put up for sale in February 2020. 

 
Sikorsky_S76D
Founded: 1925
HQ: Stratford, Connecticut
Top Executive: Dan Schultz (President)
Employees: 15,000
Phone: 203-386-4000

Sikorsky

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, is a global aerospace manufacturer specializing in both civil and military rotorcraft. Founded in 1923 by Ukrainian immigrant Igor Sikorsky, his namesake company became a pioneering force in rotorcraft development over the subsequent decades, a position it still holds today.

Initially known as the Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation, the company changed its name to the Sikorsky Manufacturing Company before becoming a subsidiary of the United Aircraft and Transport Corporation in 1929. That company eventually became United Technologies Corporation (UTC).

Before delving into the realm of rotorcraft, Sikorsky focused on multi-engined land and amphibious aircraft such as the S-42 Clipper. With low sales and little success in the segment, United Technologies merged Sikorsky with Vought Aircraft, and the development of the world's first production helicopter began.

In partnership with Vought, Sikorsky designed and flew the first single lifting-rotor helicopter prototype in May 1943, the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300. With lessons learned from the development of the VS-300, Sikorsky would eventually design and mass-manufacture the world's first production helicopter, the R-4.

In the subsequent decades, Sikorsky has positioned itself as one of the world's leading providers of military rotorcraft. Platforms such as the S-61, S-64 Skycrane, and S-65 (the original CH-53 Sea Stallion) set the development tone for what would become the ubiquitous S-70 (better known as the Black Hawk) and S-76, the latter serving as Sikorsky's premier civil rotorcraft offering since 1977. Sikorsky's other dedicated civilian rotorcraft, the S-92, was awarded the U.S. Navy contract to serve as the replacement "Marine One" Presidential helicopter in 2014.

Sikorsky remained a subsidiary of UTC until 2015 when Lockheed Martin agreed to acquire the entity at a cost of roughly $9 billion. The company is currently developing solutions for the U.S. Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, expecting to enter the compound-rotor Sikorsky SB>1 Defiant and S-97 Raider as candidates for consideration in the Future Long-Range Attack and Assault (FLRAA) and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programs, respectively.

Sikorsky employs roughly 15,000 people worldwide and is headquartered in Stratford, Connecticut.