PAST & PRESENT
AgustaWestland makes its mark with technology and innovation
Count Giovanni Agusta's efforts are paying off with helo, tiltrotor and V/STOL machines for today and the future.
AgustaWestland AW139 medium twin helicopter can carry up to 15 passengers and is used in a wide variety of roles. AW139 is the market leader in its class with more than 630 units sold to date.
AgustaWestland today offers a range of rotorcraft products designed to satisfy the requirements of commercial, special mission and military end users. In recent years company successes have included the A119 Koala—predecessor of the AW119Ke and a popular light 8-seat transport powered by a single P&WC PT6B-37 1000-shp turboshaft—and the much sought after AW139 series.
The AW139 has not only been AgustaWestland's most successful product in recent times but has also become the market leader in its class. More than 630 AW139s have been sold with some 450 already in service. Production today is running at 100 aircraft per year from assembly lines in Italy and the US with a 3rd production line to start up soon in Russia.
In Jan 2010 AgustaWestland concluded purchase of PZL-Swidnik in Poland which produces the SW4 and Sokol helicopters as well as being a major supplier of aerostructures to OEMs around the world.
AgustaWestland's new family of helicopters—AW169, AW139 and AW189—cover the 4 to 8-ton weight range, using the latest technology and a common design philosophy to provide operators with high levels of safety and performance combined with attractive operating costs.
First prototype AW169 flew in May this year. A light intermediate helicopter in the 3.5 to 4.0-metric-ton class, the AW169 is aimed at EMS, SAR, law enforcement, passenger/offshore transport and utility missions.
Introduced in 2010 the AW169 earned its place as the first brand new helicopter in its class in decades and a natural complement to the company's successful commercial product line. Powered by 2 P&WC PW210A 1000-shp engines the 9000-lb-MTOW AW169 is aimed at the fast growing market for 3 to 6-ton-MTOW multirole VTOL capability.
AgustaWestland's AW189 was announced at the 2011 Paris Air Show with first flight last December at company's Cascina Costa facility.
Plans are to certify the 17,600-lb-MTOW rotorcraft—powered by 2 GE CT7-2E1 turboshafts—in 2013 and have it in service by 2014. The AW189 uses the technology of the AW149, which is being developed as a cost effective multirole military helicopter.
The company aims to sell the AW189 for offshore helicopter support, SAR and passenger transport and by early 2011 had already signed contracts for 50 helicopters.
On the military front AgustaWestland continues market leadership with a range of capable and high-performance attack platforms. The AW129 Mangusta (Mongoose) was the first attack helicopter to be designed and wholly produced in western Europe.
Today, this anti-armor, armed reconnaissance, ground attack/anti-aircraft platform (with autonomous navigation and night vision systems) is deployed worldwide and positioned to offer lower-cost capabilities with enhanced firepower and upgraded latest-generation avionics.
The T129, the latest development, is being built by TAI in Turkey to meet the requirements of the Turkish Land Forces.
Unique market positioning
Italian styling mated with unbeatable performance, reliability and operating efficiency has put AW's current product lineup in a class by itself. While the onset of production of AW609 tiltrotors promises to change the VTOL market dramatically in coming years there will always be operators who covet, the elegant styling and performance of the classic time tested AW109 and AW119 light helicopter platforms.
Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.