HAI Convention News

Program Update: AgustaWestland

 - February 18, 2008, 8:17 AM

AgustaWestland (Booth No. 3039) doesn’t plan on introducing a new helicopter this week, but the company has plenty to say, beginning with the announcement that BERP IV rotor blades for the three-engine AW101 are now available as an option on new civil and military variants or as a retrofit on models already in service.

The company late last year announced it had completed flight testing for the new-generation BERP IV main rotor blades on the AW101 (née EH101). They will enter service soon on the UK’s Royal Air Force fleet of AW101 Merlins. The blades first flew in September 2006. During the test regime, the AW101 flew at speeds up to 198 knots and at altitudes of 13,000 feet. Aircraft fitted with BERP IV blades have also been flown at weights up to 36,300 pounds–2,000 pounds more than the standard AW101 maximum gross weight.

The blades incorporate an improved planform, new aerofoil sections and an advanced aeroelastically tailored structure that result in reduced vibration, 10 knots of additional cruise speed and 1,430 pounds of additional lift capability.

Meanwhile, AgustaWestland said the AW139 medium twin has enjoyed brisk sales since the program launch in the late 1990s. The company has orders for more than 300. Of these, some 220 have been received during the last three years. According to the manufacturer, North and South America and the Middle East/Africa represent “remarkable shares of its market presence.” The number-one application has been offshore transport, accounting for about 40 percent of sales. Government applications account for around 20 percent, EMS/SAR and utility about 30 percent and VIP/corporate around 10 percent.

The production rate for the AW139 in Vergiate, Italy, is more than 40 per year and ramping up. In Philadelphia, the production rate is predicted to reach 30 this year. Recently, Russian company Helicopter Holding said it wants AgustaWestland to set up an AW139 final assembly line in Ulan Ude, but the manufacturer would not confirm that a deal is near, conceding only that it is engaged in a “conversation about possible cooperation activities with the Russian industry.”

In the single-engine segment, the company has received “more than 40 orders” for the AW119 Ke. Introduced last March, the light single is now FAA and EASA certified. The Ke, which stands for Koala enhanced, offers an additional 286 pounds in mtow. The company has received orders for more than 100 examples of the original AW119 Koala.

About 45 percent of the orders for the AW119 and the AW119 Ke have come from North America. The most popular application is VIP/corporate transport–acounting for around 40 percent of the market. Offshore operations account for about 25 percent, EMS for some 20 percent and government/ utility applications have reached 15 percent, according to AgustaWestland. The Philadelphia facility, which houses AgustaWestland’s only AW119 production line, manufactures about 30 copies of the model per year.

In the AW109 light twin family, AgustaWestland said it has received orders for more than 190 Grands. Europe and the U.S. each have taken more than 40 percent of sales of these orders. In terms of applications, VIP/corporate transport accounts for more than 80 percent of the total. The production rate for the A109 in Vergiate is now at about 30 helicopters and ramping up. AgustaWestland awaits certification for a dedicated offshore version with six forward-facing seats.