Rotorcraft Update: Third AB139 takes off

 - May 27, 2008, 7:24 AM

The third and final pre-production Bell/Agusta AB139 has begun its flight-test program at Agusta’s Vergiate plant in Italy. Under way since prototype one made its maiden flight in February, the AB139 flight-test program, which now numbers three prototypes and a so-called tiedown helicopter (TDH) ground-test item, has logged more than 100 flight hours. Some of the performance points achieved so far include a maximum continuous speed in excess of 157 kt, as well as a maximum ceiling of 20,000 ft and  HOGE at 12,000 ft, both at the 13,200-lb mtow. The maximum rate of climb achieved so far has exceeded 2,200 fpm. AB139 IFR certification under JAR/FAR Part 29 is set for late next year, with first deliveries to the AB139’s initial group of 40 customers to follow.