AgustaWestland’s AW149 multi-role military helicopter received military certification on July 15, from the Italian Directorate of Air Armaments (Arma Aereo), following completion of certification trials with the country’s Reparto Sperimentale di Volo (RSV) test center at Pratica di Mare air base. According to AgustaWestland, operational tests are to begin shortly.
The military certification clears the way for the AW149 to enter the international market for competitions to field fleet modernization requirements. “There is a necessity for a new-generation helicopter,” said Paolo Tedoldi, AgustaWestland’s head of product marketing. “The AW149 was launched considering the aging fleet in this class.” Thousands of helicopters will need to be replaced in the next 30 to 40 years, according to AgustaWestland.
The AW149 fits the eight-metric-ton class and is powered by two 2,000-shp GE CT7-2E1 turboshafts equipped with dual-channel Fadecs and integrated particle separators. An APU is also installed, and the transmission has a 50-minute run-dry rating. “It can fly at maximum takeoff weight at 110 to 120 knots without oil in the transmission,” Tedoldi said, which will be helpful for pilots who need to exit a hot theater.
The AW149 is also equipped with an auxiliary power unit. Rotor ice protection will be optional.
The cockpit is fitted with four 8- by 10-inch flat-panel displays, which are night-vision imaging system-compatible, and a four-axis autopilot. Pilot control of avionics is via traditional buttons and knobs, as well as a cursor control device for each pilot. The avionics system is an open-architecture design so that new features can be easily added, and the avionics are integrated with mission equipment.
The AW149 on static display at the Farnborough Air Show this week had a weapons system mounted on the left side of the helicopter, but this is just to highlight the machine’s capabilities, Tedoldi explained. The 409-sq-ft AW149 cabin has the 12+2 configuration, with two seating positions for gunners facing toward the doors and fold-down seats for 12 troops. Troop-carrying configurations wouldn’t have the external weapons pod installed.
The AW149 can carry up to 19 passengers or accommodate 12+2, 10+2 layout or 8+2 layouts. “Playing with the combinations is easy,” Tedoldi said.
Other utility missions include casualty evacuation and medevac, and modules for these are easily swapped out of the roomy, flat-floored cabin. The aft baggage compartment can be accessed from the cabin. The airframe structure is 50 percent composite materials (not including the rotor blades and small fairings and other parts).
While there are many markets for the AW149 to replace older Bell UH-1Hs and Sikorsky Black Hawks, Poland is a good candidate, according to AgustaWestland.
“The selection of the AW149 built by PZL-Świdnik for the Polish requirement would ensure local production [and] assembly and through-life support and training, allowing PZL-Świdnik to keep and enhance its longstanding role in the rotorcraft industry sector, by supplying helicopters to Polish and international markets,” the company stated.