The AgustaWestland AW169 Leonardo is showing at Helitech (D-HHTJ) was the first example of the type to be used for the support of offshore wind farms.
Ordered in October 2015 and delivered to HeliService International GmbH in August 2016, this AW169 (leased from LCI) is based at the company’s Emden base. The company conducts offshore operations, primarily supporting drilling platforms, in the North Sea.
The new AW169 is operated in support of a five-year contract for winching maintenance personnel onto wind turbines using a UTC Goodrich winch. The aircraft joined an AW139 already in use by Heli Service International in the wind turbine Helicopter Hoist Operations (HHO) role.
The new helicopter is used to support the €1.5 m Siemens Gemini wind farm, the world’s largest offshore wind energy project. Gemini is a 600 MW wind farm (sufficient to power 800,000 homes) built in the North Sea, about 85 km off the coast of Groningen, consisting of 150 turbines in two 34 sq km fields.
Alongside helicopters winching direct to the turbines, Siemens is using an 84m Service Operations Vessel (SOV), the Windea la Cour, which is equipped with its own helideck and accommodating 20 crew and 40 maintenance personnel.
Launched at Farnborough International in 2010, and first flown in May 2012, the 4.6 tonne AW169 gained EASA certification in July 2015 and FAA approval in February 2017.
The aircraft is being marketed as the smallest member of a family of helicopters that share a common cockpit concept and design philosophy, alongside the best-selling 7 tonne AW139 and the newer 8.6 tonne AW189. Capable of carrying eight to ten passengers, it competes with aircraft like the AS365/EC155/H155 and the Sikorsky S-76 but offers a larger and more spacious cabin and baggage compartment. The cabin is rapidly reconfigurable and features a constant-height, flat floor cross-section with large doors affording easy access in a variety of missions.
The AW169 is powered by a pair of 1,100-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A turboshaft engines. These drive a variable-speed main rotor, which improves efficiency and reduces the external noise footprint.
The aircraft has an advanced open-architecture avionics suite with a fully digital glass cockpit featuring Rockwell Collins active-matrix liquid crystal touchscreen displays, an advanced four-axis digital automatic flight control system, and dual flight management systems.