AgustaWestland adds SW-4 to its line-up

 - September 30, 2010, 6:53 AM

Last year AgustaWestland (AW) acquired a majority interest in Polish airframer PZL-Swidnik. The deal included Swidnik’s long-in-development SW-4 light turbine single, which was on display at this year’s Farnborough airshow. While an AW spokesman declined to reveal the helicopter’s price, the SW-4 is widely believed to sell for a base price near $1 million, with prices approaching double that figure for a well equipped model. Helicopters displayed at various trade shows to date have carried sticker prices of between $1.6 million and $2 million.

“AgustaWestland considers this model its new entry-level” helicopter, a company spokesman told AIN. Rather than competing with turbine singles such as the Enstrom 480B and Sikorsky S-434, AW appears to be positioning the SW-4 as a market alternative to the Eurocopter EC120.

Swidnik was established in 1951 to make wings and control surfaces for the Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter. It has been producing helicopters since 1964, when it began manufacturing the Soviet Mi-2 under license, and its own FAR 29-certified Sokol, a 14,110-pound-mtow turbine twin, since 1985 in a variety of variants including armed ground support, fire-fighting and search-and-rescue. Swidnik has also been a critical airframe component supplier to a diverse clientele that includes AgustaWestland, ATR, Boeing, Dassault, Eurocopter and Pilatus.

In 2009 Swidnik completed the 1,000th fuselage for AW. It currently makes fuselages for the AW109, AW119 and AW139.

Work began on the 113-knot SW-4, a 3,968-pound-mtow five-seat light single, in 1981. However, the design did not fly until 1996. The Polish military has been the major customer for the helicopter to date, using it primarily as a trainer. SW-4s have also been used for pipeline patrol in Russia. Approximately 30 helicopters have been delivered throughout Europe, Asia and Australasia, according to AW.

New SW-4s are powered by the Rolls-Royce 250-C20R/2 and the company has an MOU with Rolls to use the 650-shp 250-C30 in a future growth variant. In 2006 Swidnik signed a co-production agreement with Jiujiang Hongying Technology Development in China and the first SW-4 produced there flew in February. The helicopter holds EASA JAR 27 certification.