AgustaWestland brings helicopter trio to F’boro

 - July 18, 2010, 5:34 AM

Helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland is here at the Farnborough airshow with three new aircraft: the civil GrandNew and the military AW159 Lynx Wildcat and AW149. All made their first flights during the last 12 months, although flight testing for the development of the Grand derivative is believed to have started two years ago. Also on display are the AW139 medium twin, the AW109LUH military light twin, the Swidnik SW-4 light single, the AW101 medium three-engine rotorcraft and the Apache AH Mk.1.

The GrandNew is the first light twin to enter service with a synthetic-vision system in the cockpit, AgustaWestland claims. It also features a four-axis autopilot and a new avionics suite. It has received European certification and AgustaWestland said it expects U.S. approval “soon.” The company also said it has received more than 50 orders for the GrandNew.

The AW159, which in UK military service will be known as the Lynx Wildcat, is the first new British helicopter to be shown in over 20 years, the manufacturer said. It will replace the Lynx. The UK Ministry of Defence has ordered 62 aircraft–34 for the army and 28 for the navy–for delivery by 2017.

The prototype flew in November last year. GKN delivered the first production airframe to AgustaWestland’s factory in Yeovil this month and expects to hand over the first aircraft next year. Full operational status is planned for 2014 in the army and 2015 in the navy.

Missions will include reconnaissance, command and control, troop transport and anti-surface warfare. The manufacturer pledges a high degree of commonality between the two versions, enabling easy role switching. The AW159’s mtow is about 12,800 pounds.

The AW149, a multi-role helicopter derived from the civil AW139, is being displayed in the form of a full-scale mockup. It is an eight-metric-ton (18,000 pound) class aircraft for troop transport (seating up to 18), fire support and combat search and rescue, among other missions. It has been developed to meet an Italian air force requirement. It is also a candidate for the Turkish utility helicopter program.

The first AW149 prototype also flew in November. It is representative of the final configuration as far as airframe and avionics are concerned. A second prototype, due to fly this year, will also have the final engines–General Electric CT7-2E1s in lieu of Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67C turboshafts–and transmission. Production deliveries are scheduled to start in 2014.