AgustaWestland’s AW189 Makes Maiden Flight
AgustaWestland’s next-generation AW189 prototype made its first flight ahead of schedule yesterday at the Finmeccanica company’s plant in Cascina Costa, Italy. With chief test pilot Giuseppe Lo Coco at the controls, “it performed as expected” during a 45-minute sortie that also included an assessment of the helicopter’s general handling and basic systems. The program was launched earlier this year in response to what the company perceives as the growing market for a versatile, affordable, multi-role helicopter in the eight-ton class. “We are delighted with the initial response from the market, with a number of leading operators having already committed to buy the AW189 for offshore oil and gas markets, including Bristow Helicopters, Bel Air and Weststar Aviation Services,” said AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini. In transport mode, the AW189 will seat up to 18 passengers and in a search-and-rescue role will accommodate a mission console, stretchers and seating for crew and survivors. A single or dual rescue hoist can be positioned above the starboard-side sliding door. The AW189 is expected to enter service in early 2014.