AgustaWestland announced the AW149 program in 2006 and the 8.6-ton helicopter made its first flight in 2009. Based on the successful AW139 medium twin, the 149 is a military variant that is 12 feet longer, four feet taller, 5,000 pounds heavier (mtow), has a slightly larger main rotor disk and a pair of more powerful, Fadec-controlled GE CT7-2E1 turboshafts (2,000 shp each) that give the helicopter good high/hot performance and satisfy the 6,000-foot, 95-degree F OGE standard.
The air-conditioned 409-cu-ft cabin is 25 percent larger than that of the AW139 and the baggage hold offers 71 cu ft. The AW149 will hold 12 fully provisioned troops or seat 18 passengers, cruise at 150 knots and have a maximum range of 635 nm. It has a full glass-panel avionics system that is NVG compatible, a four-axis autopilot and can be ordered with optional rotor ice protection.
In 2011 AgustaWestland announced its intention to offer a civilian variant of the AW149, the AW189, aimed mostly at the lucrative offshore oil and gas industry. Five prototypes of that aircraft are currently flying, including one in the U.S., currently in Alaska for cold-weather testing. The AW189 is being marketed as a lower-cost alternative to the Sikorsky S-92A and Eurocopter EC225. With 12 passengers, the AW189 has the range to reach and return from platforms as far as 200 nm offshore. AgustaWestland is offering the AW189 in offshore, VIP, maritime search-and-rescue and parapublic variants. The helicopter made its first flight on Dec. 21, 2011. The AW189 is expected to be certified in this year’s second half with a variety of options and kits, with the eventual goal of approval for single-pilot IFR. AgustaWestland continues to promote the AW149, but has yet to find a launch customer.