Paris Air Show

Newest AW101 variant makes airshow debut

 - June 14, 2009, 9:14 AM

The latest variant of Agusta Westland’s AW101 medium-lift helicopter is appearing at the Paris Air Show for the first time here this week, raising the new variant’s international profile and helping the manufacturer promote new business with the likes of Fittipaldi Aircraft, a joint venture between car racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi and investment bank State Capital.

The latest variant of the AW101 features new, more efficient main rotor blades, more powerful engines, a new cockpit display system and a new uprated tail rotor. The upgrades enable the AW101 to fly faster, farther and with more payload, while improving performance in adverse conditions.

The new main rotor blades, developed under the fourth British Experimental Rotor Program and known as BERP IV technology blades, incorporate an improved planform, new aerofoil sections and an advanced aero elastically tailored structure to reduce vibration while adding 10 knots of cruise speed and 1,430 pounds of lift capability.

More powerful General Electric CT7-8E engines, rated at 2,527 shp at takeoff, supply 12 percent more power than previous CT7-family engines, increasing the AW101’s payload by more than 2,000 pounds when it operates in hot-and-high conditions. The helicopter’s new fully integrated flight and mission cockpit display system uses five 10- by 8-inch main LCD displays, giving pilots 70 percent more display area. The new, fully articulated tail rotor takes advantage of the extra power available from the engines and allows the AW101 to operate at its 34,392-pound maximum takeoff weight and higher weights in the future.

Turning its attention from the AW101 workhorse to the VIP market, AgustaWestland announced that Fittipaldi Aircraft has signed a dealership agreement for nine Grand light twins and one AW139 medium-twin rotorcraft. Under the new agreement, Fittipaldi Aircraft will act as a nonexclusive dealer to the U.S. VIP market, working in close cooperation with AgustaWestland Philadelphia and its established sales force. The company intends to assemble the AW139 and customize the Grand helicopters at its newly expanded facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, AgustaWestland has recently started building another new site, located some 19 miles from the center of São Paulo, Brazil, to support a rapidly growing fleet of commercial helicopters in South America. The new customer support center will offer maintenance, logistics, spares, repair and overhaul and customization for the AW119, all variants of the AW109, the Grand and AW139.

Scheduled to begin operations early next year, the new center will cover an area of 570,000 sq ft, including 55,000 sq ft of hangar and warehouse space. The new facility provides three times more space than the facility it will replace and allows for expansion.