AW169 Helicopter Makes First Flight

 - May 13, 2012, 9:15 AM

The AgustaWestland AW169 medium twin helicopter made its first flight on Thursday at the company’s Cascina Costa plant in northern Italy. The company reported that the eight- to 10-passenger, 9,000-pound helicopter performed “as expected” during the flight to check out general handling and basic systems.

The AW169 is powered by a pair of 1,000-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A turboshafts, a variant of the PW210S engine that powers the new Sikorsky S-76D. The helicopter’s advanced avionics suite will include a digital night-vision-goggle-compatible cockpit with three eight- by 10-inch large area displays with enhanced graphics capability. A four-axis digital automatic flight control system with dual flight management system is expected to facilitate single-pilot IFR operations. It also will feature IFR LPV (instrument flight rules, localizer performance with vertical guidance) capability and terrain awareness warning system.

Fuselage construction is expected to include generous use of composites. The helicopter will be offered with a choice of wheeled or skid landing gear. The AW169 has a 222-cu-ft cabin and a 45-cu-ft baggage hold.

AgustaWestland claims 50 orders for the new $10- to $12 million AW169 and projects an ultimate market of 1,000 helicopters over the next 25 years. It is aiming for certification in 2014 with deliveries beginning in 2015. Two more prototypes are to join the test fleet this year and a fourth to be added in 2013.

The helicopter is being marketed to the executive, SAR, EMS, offshore, and law-enforcement markets and will be built in AgustaWestland’s plant in Yeovil, UK. Executive interiors already have been developed for the aircraft.