Dark clouds and a strong breeze failed to prevent yesterday’s unveiling of AgustaWestland’s latest civil helicopter, the eight-ton multi-role AW189. “This reminds me of the North Sea, one of the working environments our new helicopter was designed for,” said AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini.
The AW189, a low-risk, straight derivative of the military AW149, is aimed at the offshore oil and search-and-rescue markets, as well as for parapublic operations and passenger transport. Certification is set for 2013 with service entry in early 2014.
Powered by twin 2,000-shp General Electric CT7-2E1 turboshafts developed with Italy’s Avio, the aircraft will have a range of 140 nm, providing access to most rigs with enough fuel for the return flight. “The AW189 is big inside, small outside, which means it can operate to and from existing oil platforms,” Spagnolini said.
With four seats abreast, the cabin accommodates up to 18 passengers in a high-density arrangement but is normally configured for 16, or even 12 people for ultra-long range flights. A quick-fit, modular fuel system allows for mission optimisation, depending on passenger load.
The avionics kit is based around four Rockwell Collins eight- by10-inch multifunction displays, a duplex flight-control system (digital, four-axis) and dual flight-management system. Single-pilot instrument flight rules (IFR) certification is intended, synthetic- and enhanced-vision systems for IFR situational awareness.
Like its military forebear, the AW189 is designed to be crashworthy and the main gearbox can run 30 minutes without oil. Emergency flotation is said to provide stability in sea state-6 conditions.