AgustaWestland’s New Generation AW169 Helicopter Completes Its Maiden Flight
This past May, AgustaWestland made an important announcement: the first prototype of the AW169, the company’s new generation 4.5 ton light intermediate helicopter, had successfully completed its maiden flight.
The AW169, which was launched at the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2010, is on schedule to achieve basic civil certification in 2014 and will be delivered to customers starting in 2015.
The helicopter has several unique features that have made it an extremely popular product. To date, the AW169 has logged 50 customer orders.
First, it incorporates new generation technologies into the rotor system, engines, avionics, transmission, and electric power generation and distribution systems to provide the highest levels of safety and operational benefits for its customers.
One of the key features of the aircraft is the rotor blades which have an advanced aerodynamic rotor design that delivers excellent performance in the most demanding operating environments. These rotor blades also produce very low external noise, well-below that of regulatory limits.
Another innovative feature of the AW169 is the avionics suite which has the very latest technology for maximum situational awareness and all-weather operations, including a fully-digital NVG compatible cockpit with three 8” x 10” large area displays. The displays have enhanced graphics and touch screen capability. The avionics suite also complies with satellite-based navigation, communication and surveillance requirements and has the capability to perform satellite-based IFR LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) approaches to maximize round-the-clock utilization of the helicopter.
Safety enhancing avionics such as the terrain awareness warning system, airborne collision avoidance system, and the innovative ‘Guardian’ obstacle detection device can be added to the standard avionic configuration.
Finally, environmental friendliness is core to the AW169 design. The aircraft contains new generation advanced turboshaft engines that ensure maximum efficiency and low emissions. Additionally, as previously stated, the advanced rotor aerodynamics produce very low external noise. Also, the new generation, advanced FADEC-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210 turboshaft engines deliver maximum efficiency, high power, and low emissions.
The AW169 is set to be the most advanced and cost effective helicopter in its class for EMS, SAR, law enforcement, passenger and offshore transport and utility missions. According to mission requirements, the AW169 can be customized to a wide range of equipment including weather radar, FLIR, rescue hoist, cargo hook, search light and medical interior just to name a few.
The AW169 is part of AgustaWestland's family of new generation helicopters which also includes the AW139 and AW189 models.
These helicopters all possess the same high performance flight characteristics and safety features and share the same common cockpit layout, design philosophy and maintenance concepts. This approach will deliver real cost savings in areas such as training, maintenance and support for existing operators of the AW139 who add the AW169 and/or AW189 helicopters to their fleets.
For the test flight, The AW169 was flown by AgustaWestland's Chief Test Pilot, Giuseppe Lo Coco, Test Pilot Giuseppe Afruni, and Flight Test Engineers Massimo Longo and Stefano Rognoni at the company's Cascina Costa plant in Italy. The helicopter performed as expected during the flight which included an assessment of the helicopter's general handling and basic systems. The first prototype will be joined by two more aircraft later this year and a fourth prototype in 2013.
Bruno Spagnolini, Chief Executive Officer, AgustaWestland, said, "The AW169 is the only new generation helicopter in its category to be launched in decades, so this is an important milestone for the continued enhancement of AgustaWestland's product range and for the development of our family of new generation helicopters."
He added, "With both the AW169 and AW189 now flying and the AW139 established as the market leader in it class, we are able to offer the market the most advanced range of helicopters across the 4 to 8 ton weight classes in the shortest possible timescales. Operator will for the first time ever, in the helicopter market, be able to benefit from the advantages of a family concept of three new generation helicopters."
The AW169 is the first brand-new type introduced in its market segment in decades and AgustaWestland forecasts a potential market for almost 1000 aircraft over approximately 20 years.