AgustaWestland (Booth 7070) announced plans last month to open a second final assembly line for its new AW169 medium twin at its U.S. plant in Philadelphia to complement the main line for the helicopter in Vergiate, Italy. Major components for the AW169 will continue to be made to AW’s plant at Yeovil in the UK and this site will continue to provide engineering support, said company spokesman Geoff Russell.
The British government provided the Anglo-Italian manufacturer with just over $33 million in loans to support the AW169 program in 2011. Along with its UK suppliers, AgustaWestland’s UK operation is playing a major role in the design, development and manufacture of the rotor blades and intermediate and tail gearboxes and tail rotor hub for the AW169. Yeovil also is flight testing one of the four AW169 prototypes and leading the training development for the aircraft, including the development of courseware for aircrew and ground crew training. Other key European suppliers include Fokker Aerostructures for the empennage, including a full thermoplastic horizontal tailplane with a co-consolidated, single-piece multi-spar torsion box; Mecaer for interiors and flight controls; and Liebherr for the air conditioning and environmental controls.
Four prototypes of the 10-seat, 10,000-pound helicopter are currently in flight test in Italy and the U.S. and certification is expected in 2014. The company has received more than 80 orders from 38 customers in 16 countries for the $10- to $12 million Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A-powered AW169. AW Philadelphia CEO Bill Hunt told AIN that the plant anticipates delivering its first completed AW169 in 2015 and would eventually ramp up production of the model to 20 per year by 2017.
AW Philadelphia currently manufactures the AW119Kx single and the AW139 medium twin; last year the company built 12 and 36, respectively, at its plant there. Over the last five years, AW has built 150 AW139s in Philadelphia, and 45 percent of all helicopters built there are exported. The company also builds the AW139 at its Vergiate plant and in other locations around the world. Globally, more than 550 AW139s have been delivered and almost 200 more are on order. Hunt said that AW is making new options available for the AW139, including a limited ice protection system, Phase 7 Honeywell Primus Epic avionics, new passenger seats, weather satellite receiver, hoist enhancements and the Trakka search light, recently installed for AW139s for the Maryland State Police.
Derived from the AW119 Koala, AW Philadelphia developed the new AW119Kx featuring the Garmin G1000H glass-panel avionics system in less than a year. Hunt said AW was “weeks away” from receiving FAA certification approval for the helicopter, with EASA approval to follow shortly. Life Flight Network is the launch customer, with 15 on order. “If you look at how the systems are integrated into the aircraft, it is pretty incredible,” he said. “Every single wire on the aircraft had to be rerouted. It was a huge undertaking.”