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Avio S.p.A.
TypeSocietà per azioni
IndustryAeronautical, Defence, Space, Marine, Electronics, Energy
PredecessorFiat Aviazione
Founded1908; 116 years ago (1908) in Turin, Italy
Rivalta di Torino, Turin
Key people
Giulio Ranzo (CEO)
ProductsComponents and modules for aircraft and helicopter engines, Space propulsion and launch vehicles, MRO and services for aircraft engines and aeroderivative gas turbines, Electronic and electrical systems
RevenueIncrease 344 million (2017)
Increase 25 million (2017)
Increase 22 million (2017)
OwnerSpace2 (72%) Leonardo S.p.A. (28%)

Avio S.p.A. is an Italian company operating in the aerospace sector with its head office in Rivalta di Torino, Turin, Italy. Founded in 1908, it is present in Italy and abroad with different commercial offices and 10 production sites. Avio operates in 5 main business areas in the civil and military sectors:

  • modules and components for aircraft and helicopter propulsion systems
  • solid-propellant motors for space and tactical propulsion
  • MRO and services
  • aeroderivative gas turbines for marine and industrial applications
  • electronic/electrical control and automation systems[1]

Avio is Prime Contractor for the new European launcher Vega.

The company is active in the field of technological research. It carries out projects in collaboration with 14 Italian and 10 foreign universities and research centres, which are aimed at the continuous improvement of product and process technologies. It also undertakes the research of solutions in order to reduce the environmental impact of aircraft engines,[2] in conformity with the objectives of consumption and emissions reduction dictated, within the European area, by the ACARE body.[3][4]


Early 20th century

In 1908, aeronautical production was in its early stages in Turin, Italy. At that time Fiat decided to design and produce an airplane engine, the SA 8/75, derived from racing cars. The first mass-produced engine produced by Fiat was the A10. 1,070 units were created between 1914 and 1915: at this point the pioneer age had come to an end and the company decided to design and construct complete aircraft. Thus in 1916 the Società Italiana Aviazione was founded, changing its name in 1918 to Fiat Aviazione.[5]

In Turin, besides aircraft engines, and along the lines of the internal-combustion engine, Fiat diversified production with the construction in 1909 of Fiat San Giorgio for marine diesel engines, the area from which activities in the field of industrial engines for electric power generation later ensued. In Colleferro (Rome), the Bombrini Parodi-Delfino-BPD Company, established in Genoa in 1912, started manufacturing explosives and chemical products, from which the space segment originated.

The aeronautical field began in Brindisi with the SACA Company. Gradually, other companies began such as the CMASA di Marina Company in Pisa, founded in 1921 by German design engineer Claude Dornier, in collaboration with Rinaldo Piaggio and Attilio Odero.

Development of large engines and turbines

Avio were present in the development and manufacture of engines for the production of electric energy, having developed large engines for ships.

Fiat started the study of marine engines in 1903. Beginning from 1926, with engineer Giovanni Chiesa, the manufacture with engines with 750mm-diameter cylinders, the maximum diameter permitted by technologies of the time, which increased engine power up to 4,500HP. In 1971, production began on large diesel engines in Trieste, in a new factory established through a collaboration agreement with the state company IRI (Institute for Industrial Reconstruction).

Starting from the 1930s, a strategy of diversification, which derived from engines produced for ships and submarines, led Avio entering the field of railway diesel engines, while the first engines for the production of electric energy for industrial use had been experimented with in the early post-war period. The development of a gas turbine was started up through a collaboration agreement stipulated with Westinghouse in 1954. Avio's experience in this field, combined with the increased availability of methane gas, enabled the development and manufacture of several electric power generation plants in Italy and abroad.

The success of the gas turbines led to the decision to leave the segment of large diesel engines in order to focus on this. In 1973, Fiat set up the company Turbomeccanica Turbogas (TTG), focusing entirely on the Turin Company’s activities in the energy sector. In 1986, Fiat Aviazione incorporated TTG, and developed the activities until 2001, when it was made over to Siemens, changing the marine and industrial activities to the development of aeroderivative turbines.[6]

Development of explosives and propellants

The BPD industrial plants were established 50 km from Rome, along the railway line for Cassino, due to the initiative of the engineer Leopoldo Parodi – Delfino, supported by Senator Giovanni Bombrini, and the resolution of the State to provide the country with an independent production capacity in the chemical field.

Situated in a poor region of Roman countryside, the town of Colleferro began around the industrial site and was elevated to a municipal district in 1935 by Royal Decree. The town grew in correlation with the production activities of BPD that, from explosives, extended to several chemical products derived for agricultural and industrial uses. The production plants developed and expanded attracting labour, and the company provided for social works.

In 1927, the BPD Test Centre started to experiment on the first rockets powered by chemical powder. After the Second World War, on the initiative of Francesco Serra di Cassano, son-in-law and successor to BPD’s founder, mechanical production, which had been started up in the 1930s for munitions activities, was developed and expanded. The Test Centre intensified experimentation on propellants, beginning with the launching of multi-stage sounding rockets for research in the upper atmosphere, produced at the Salto di Quirra military firing range in Sardinia, in the early 1960s.

In 1966, following its success with the rockets, BPD entered into a contract with ELDO (forerunner of the European Space Agency – ESA) for the development and production of the apogee boost motor of the ELDO-PAS telecommunications satellite. This led to development in the field of solid-propellant motors.

In 1968, the SNIA Viscosa Company took over BPD, which became SNIA-BPD. In 1975, under this company configuration, ESA initially gave the BPD branch of SNIA the task of developing and producing the separation motors of the European Ariane satellite launcher, and in 1984, the contract for the manufacture of the Ariane 5 boosters. The Ariane take-off motors have been completed now for over twenty years at the launch site in French Guiana, under the subsidiary companies Europropulsion and Regulus, set up in 1988.[6]

In 1990, SNIA sold the BPD branch to the Gilardini Company, which was bought by Fiat Aviazione in 1994. From 1989 Fiat Aviazione became FiatAvio S.p.A.[5]

Aviation activities

Fiat took on the role of Italian prime contractor for the NATO F-104G aircraft. With the name change of the Fiat Aviazione to Fiat Avio in 1989, the company collaborated on the design and manufacture of propulsion systems for, among the others, the Tornado and Harrier in the military sector, and Boeing and Airbus in the commercial one.

In 1997, the acquisition of the controlling stake in Alfa Romeo Avio from Finmeccanica was key to a national strategic project aimed at reducing the excessive fragmentation of the Italian companies and at increasing competitiveness through more systematic synergies.[6]


Avio was able to increase internationalisation, working in the fields of design, development and manufacture of components and modules for aerospace propulsion. After the setting up of AvioPolska in 2001, the creation of DutchAero followed in 2005, with the acquisition of Phillips Aerospace. .[6]

In 2003, the Fiat Group, struggling with the crisis in the automobile sector, sold Fiat Avio S.p.A. to a consortium formed by American private equity fund, the Carlyle Group (70%), and Finmeccanica S.p.A. (30%), who won against competition from French company Snecma. At the time, Fiat Avio was valued at €1.5 billion, and changed its corporate name to Avio S.p.A.[7]

In August 2006, English private equity fund Cinven announced that it had acquired Avio S.p.A. from Carlyle for an enterprise value of €2.57 billion.[7]

Avio is owned by Space2 (72%) and Leonardo S.p.A. (28%) [8]

Production and activities

The sectors of activities are today:

  • design, development and production of solid-propellant space propulsion motors and tactical propulsion systems. Avio is also Prime Contractor for the new European launcher Vega;[9]

The sectors of activities in the past were also:

  • design, development and production of modules and components for aircraft and helicopter propulsion systems. Avio is the Italian champion for military aeroengines and leader worldwide as regards mechanical transmissions;
  • aeroengine MRO and management services for aircraft and helicopter propulsion systems;
  • design, development and construction of aeroderivative gas turbines for marine and industrial applications, as well as for the production of electric energy;
  • production of control and automation systems, and electronic/electrical systems destined for the aerospace, marine, energy and defence sectors.

Products of Aero


  • Ariane III (with SNECMA and SME)
  • Ariane IV (with SNECMA and SME)
  • Ariane V (with SNECMA and SME)
  • Vega

Products of Avio Aero (sold to GE)


  • GE90, partner to General Electric
  • GEnx, partner to General Electric
  • T700, subcontracting to General Electric
  • CFM56, subcontracting to CFM International
  • SaM146, subcontracting to CFM Safran (Snecma) Power Jet
  • Trent 900, subcontracting to Rolls-Royce
  • PW150, subcontracting to Pratt & Whitney Canada
  • PW308, subcontracting to Pratt & Whitney Canada
  • PW800, subcontracting to Pratt & Whitney Canada



  • LM2500, subcontracting to General Electric


  • LM2500 family, subcontracting to General Electric
  • LM6000, subcontracting to General Electric
  • LMS100, partner to General Electric


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  4. [Avio Group 2009 Consolidated Financial Statements]
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 [La Storia futura - Stefano Musso Professor of History of Political Movements and Parties at the Faculty of Political Science, Turin University - 2008- AVIO S.p.A.]
  7. 7.0 7.1
  8. [1]
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 

External links