Manufacturer Promising New AW139 Tailbooms

February 18, 2010, 11:45 AM

In the wake of a tailboom failure on a Gulf Airways AW139 in August, AgustaWestland is assuring customers with helicopters on order that it will deliver them with a newly designed boom starting in April. The tailboom on the Gulf AW139 failed while the helicopter was taxiing on the ground in Doha, Qatar. There were no injuries. That boom exhibited signs of debonding, as have numerous other AW139 tailbooms, according to several operators. Some of the debonding is severe enough to require replacement of the entire tailboom. Since the incident in Qatar, both the EASA and FAA have issued emergency Airworthiness Directives. The AW139 airframe and components are made under contract by PZL Swidnik in Poland and Turkish Aerospace Industries. The new tailboom will use a different composite technique and an aluminum skin bonded to honeycomb, according to one U.S.-based AW139 customer. It’s still unclear when the new-design boom will be available for in-service AW139s. An AgustaWestland spokesman told AIN that the company would issue a statement regarding the AW139 tailboom “in the very near term.”

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