Recent orders for some 45 aircraft in the offshore transport configuration have confirmed a rising demand for the AW139 in the Middle East. Here at the Dubai Air Show, AgustaWestland (Stand C310) is exhibiting both the offshore transport and VIP versions of the AW139 as well as a VIP A109 Grand.
The AW139, a 6.5-ton-class medium twin-turbine engine helicopter with a range in excess of 500 nm, a 15-passenger cabin and a maximum speed of 165 knots, is one of AgustaWestland’s hottest offerings in this market. According to company officials, AgustaWestland expects to sell the AW139 to several Middle Eastern customers for a variety of roles, such as offshore transport for the oil industry, VIP/corporate transport, search and rescue, law enforcement and special forces operations.
The offshore version of the AW139 is typically equipped with auxiliary tanks holding 880 pounds of extra fuel to increase its range to more than 570 nm. Other equipment for this version can include search-and-weather radar, a health-and-usage monitoring system, enhanced ground proximity warning system, flotation system and life rafts, traffic collision avoidance system, cockpit voice and sensor data recorder, auto deployable emergency locator transmitter and the helicopter emergency egress lighting system.
Recently, AgustaWestland sold some VVIP versions of the AW139 to customers here in the United Arab Emirates. The helicopter’s cabin allows for the installation of accessories such as telecommunications equipment, working areas and refreshment service.
The company also recently delivered eight AW139s to the UAE air force and expects to begin delivery of additional units to Abu Dhabi police air wing soon.
To improve its after-sales support, in 2005 AgustaWestland appointed UAE-based Abu Dhabi Aviation as an authorized service center. The two companies are looking to strengthen their alliance by discussing a plan to establish a helicopter completions center in this part of the world.
Strong Interest in the AW101
Several Middle East customers are evaluating the 16-ton, three-engine AW101 helicopter with a view to ordering it in a VVIP configuration. The AW101 is an upgraded derivative of the EH101 military helicopter, which has demonstrated its suitability for the local environment as it serves in the ongoing conflict in Iraq. The civilian version features the same propulsion system redundancy but with a higher installed power, which has allowed for an increased maximum takeoff weight and better performance in higher temperatures.
At almost exactly six feet high and just over eight feet wide, the cabin allows plenty of scope for VVIP interiors. Optional features include an environmental control system, video and audio entertainment systems, custom-designed seats, galley and washroom facilities, and a secure communications system.
Powers and Grands
Numerous AW109 Power and Grand light twin helicopters are in service in
the Middle East, including in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where they are used
for public/VIP/corporate transport and law enforcement.
According to AgustaWestland, area operators consider the fast and comfortable three-ton AW109 Power and the 3.2-ton Grand as the helicopters of choice for corporate air taxi and airport transfer work. Moreover, the Saudi Aramco offshore utility-configured AW109 Power, which incorporates some features of the naval version, such as the flotation system, also provides VIP and medical evacuation transport in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia and throughout the