Leonardo Helicopters UK Land AW149 at Yeovil College in recognition of National Apprenticeship Week

As part of Yeovil College’s programme of recognition and celebration for National Apprenticeship Week, Leonardo Helicopters UK has landed their AW149 helicopter in the heart of the Yeovil campus, officially marking the impact the apprenticeship programme has on the South West. The AW149 was flown in and landed by Lee Evans, Senior Test Pilot at Leonardo Helicopters UK, a former military apprentice. 

Yeovil College and Leonardo have a mutually beneficial relationship that goes back nearly 60 years. Thousands of Leonardo trainees and employees have been educated at the College in the South West of England. Working in tandem, Leonardo can secure the highly skilled workforce of tomorrow through the innovative, leading apprentice programmes at Yeovil College. 


Mark Bolton, CEO & Principal of Yeovil College, said: “We are excited that Leonardo is supporting National Apprenticeship Week at Yeovil College, more so with an AW149 helicopter visit, which is accompanied by more than a dozen Leonardo colleagues who are sharing their amazing career stories with our students. 

“Leonardo provides some of the most exciting career opportunities in the UK, more diverse than many of our students or wider community understand. 

We place high value in our work and relationship with Leonardo, together we are building skills and knowledge for the existing and future workforce to ensure rotary aerospace continues at pace in the South West. Cutting-edge developments in engineering and zero carbon aerospace have taken leaps forward recently, electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies, through to 3D printing with carbon and titanium, all new opportunities to ensure we have the very best aerospace people right here in Yeovil. 

“We are stronger together and our partnership is making a big difference for our community, it’ll be great to welcome the next generation of helicopter on site, and we thrilled to show our staff and students the newest development in combat helicopters against a backdrop of our own training Lynx helicopter.” 


The AW149 is the ideal solution for the UK’s new Medium Helicopter requirement. Leonardo’s AW149 multi-role helicopter is the latest-generation battlefield platform, reconfigurable for a wide range of demanding missions in the most severe operational environments.


Military helicopters must be equipped to perform the most demanding battlefield missions in the harshest environments. The AW149 is a latest-generation medium multi-role military helicopter that delivers the highly effective and survivable capability required by today’s armed forces, combining advanced technologies, equipment and weapons with unparalleled safety and performance characteristics. 


Further supporting National Apprenticeship Week, Leonardo delivered a package of enrichment activities across the Yeovil College student community, highlighting careers and opportunities within the local area, and in particular supporting their own workforce development need, including Manufacturing Engineering , Engineering Design Programs and Finance, HR Careers and Customer Support. 


Leonardo Helicopters is also educationally important to the West of England’s Institute of Technology (IoT), providing leadership and strategic direction in the drive for more and better skills, and the government’s skills agenda for jobs, particularly around aerospace manufacturing within our region. Through the West of England IoT, Leonardo partners with Yeovil College, Weston College, Bath College, Gloucestershire College and University of the West of England, bringing the highest quality education and training to the region. 


Lee Evans, Senior Test Pilot at Leonardo Helicopters UK, commented on his early career and how he enjoys talking with school leavers and college students on the opportunities that can present themselves on apprenticeship schemes: “I genuinely didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career when I left school. However, with my qualifications, I decided to join the Royal Navy as an Apprentice Marine Engineer at the age of 17. 

“My three-year apprenticeship provided me with the knowledge, technical skills, leadership qualities, and qualifications that have been the foundation for the rest of my career as a Marine Engineering Artificer, Helicopter Pilot/Instructor, and Test Pilot.  

“The apprentices at Leonardo receive amazing training from Yeovil College while working on real aircraft at ‘the Home of British Helicopters’ in Yeovil. An apprenticeship will serve as a great foundation for the rest of their career.” 


Choosing a British-made helicopter – the Leonardo AW149 – as the UK’s next military helicopter would create a cutting-edge new production line in Yeovil. It would be an investment in UK skills, design and manufacturing, and intellectual property, which would support thousands of jobs, boost exports and contribute significantly to the UK’s economic recovery following Covid-19. 


Last year, Leonardo widened Team AW149 UK – the company’s onshore supply chain which supports Leonardo’s latest-generation military AW149 helicopter, which is being put forward for the UK’s New Medium Helicopter requirement. The team now includes include members from across its communities who will also benefit should the UK opt for a helicopter built in Yeovil, the ‘Home of British Helicopters.’ Leonardo was proud to welcome Yeovil College as the first Team AW149 UK community member. 


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