AgustaWestland arrived at EBACE 2014 with a GrandNew light-twin-engine helicopter and also brought a scale mockup of the exclusive VIP interior in the new AW169 light-intermediate twin. The GrandNew has secured more than 330 orders by 200-plus customers in nearly 40 countries.
AgustaWestland’s presence in the European market, which accounts for about 60 percent of the Italian company’s total annual revenue, has been strengthened in particular by new-generation helicopters such as the AW169, AW139 and AW189. That chunk of revenue is comprised of both civil and military business and includes several “crucial contracts” signed between 2013 and 2014, according to the company, including orders from offshore, VIP/corporate and parapublic operators. In Europe, about 250 AgustaWestland helicopters are in corporate service and that number is closer to 300 when previous versions of the A109 and license-produced versions are included.
Sales activity in Europe has been highest in the light-twin segment. Nearly 70 percent of orders were for the AW109 Power and Grand/Grand New models. The AW139 intermediate helicopter stands at about 50 orders. “We are sure the AW169 will experience a steady growth as approximately 30 percent of sales for all commercial applications for the type have already been got in Europe,” a company spokesman said. While VIP/corporate applications are the most popular use of the A109 Power and Grand/Grand New models, operators are also flying these models in law enforcement and aeromedical operations. “Swiss SAR service provider Rega with its fleet of Da Vinci helicopters is a clear example of this,” the spokesman told AIN.
The newest A109 version, the A109 Trekker, will extend the utility capabilities of the light-twin even further. And European operators have also found growing applications for the AW139 for VIP/corporate, offshore and public utility operations. Meanwhile, AgustaWestland expects that the AW189 super-medium helicopter will be attractive for VIP customers needing longer range and a larger cabin. “This would further expand the more significant presence it has already achieved for offshore and SAR operations,” said the spokesman.
In Europe, AgustaWestland (Booth 6629) is seeing growth in both the commercial and military markets. The AW189 is being delivered for the UK SAR program, in a shift from a military-based service to civilian operation. Norway has selected the AW101 for its SAR requirement.
Meanwhile leasing companies are playing a growing part in ordering AgustaWestland helicopters for a variety of roles.
Also important for the European market are customer support and training activities. AgustaWestland has expanded training capabilities at its training academy in Sesto Calende, Italy. In Zurich, a new GrandNew full-flight simulator is operating under an agreement with Swiss Aviation Training. And in Zaventem, Belgium the company opened a new repair and overhaul facility.
Possibly AgustaWestland’s most challenging product, the AW609 tiltrotor continues to make progress, with prototype number three current being assembled. The first two prototypes have exceeded 1,000 hours of flight testing and also achieved completion of flight envelope expansion trials during 2013 and this year. A major campaign also completed during the flight testing was autorotation trials. According to the spokesman, “The concurrent industrialization phase of the AW609 is also taking shape across the AgustaWestland network and associated supply chain, with new equipment and tooling being acquired to guarantee existing orders can start to be fulfilled immediately after FAA type certification. The AW609 will be important for the unprecedented contribution it can give to reshape the way the whole rotorcraft community means vertical lift in the civil market. And we’re investigating into new generation of tiltrotor concepts as ideal solutions for European programs in the framework of the Clean Sky 2 initiative.”
At the AgustaWestland display, the AW169 interior, shown here in mockup form, was “developed in the framework of the ‘Flydeas for the City’ initiative launched in Milan earlier this spring,” according to AgustaWestland. The interior and special paint scheme were designed by the Lanzavecchia+Wai Design Studio, which based its design on concepts culled from various nations and “design sectors not strictly related to aerospace.” The result is a four-seat interior incorporating advanced materials and an optimization of the available internal space and flight experience, the company noted.