Leonardo AW09 Switches To Safran Power

 - January 26, 2023, 8:34 AM
Leonardo will begin flight testing soon on its latest AW09 single-turbine-engine prototype, now equipped with Safran's Arriel 2K engine. (Photo: Leonardo Helicopters)

Leonardo Helicopters announced this morning that it will fly its latest AW09 single-turbine-engine prototype, PS4, with Safran power. The helicopter will fly shortly with the 1,000-shp-class Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2K to guarantee “the most efficient level of industrialization, global supply, and supportability for customers,” according to the Italian airframer. Up until now, AW09 (née Kopter SH09) prototypes have flown with the Honeywell HTS900 engine.

According to Leonardo, the change “will provide innovative, simplified, and competitive maintenance solutions and cost of operations, sustained by tailored service plans and support-by-the-hour contracts as well as a large range of digital services.” Safran has produced 15,000 Arriel series engines that power a variety of helicopters, including the Airbus Helicopters AStar family, Leonardo AW109, and several Sikorsky S-76 models. 

“Since the integration of Kopter into our organization and the introduction of the AW09 into our product range, we have firmly maintained our commitment to deliver to the market exactly what it expects from a single engine of the latest standards backed by an efficient and responsive global support network," said Leonardo Helicopters managing director Gian Piero Cutillo. “The decision to select this propulsion system is consistent with this strategy and we look forward to working with our partner to bring the most modern single engine on the commercial market.” 

Following Leonardo's acquisition of Kopter Group for $185 million in 2020, the company acquired the single-turbine SH09 helicopter program, bringing substantial engineering, production, and marketing resources to the project. In 2021, it revamped the prototype’s design with an elongated mast, updated flight controls, Garmin G3000H avionics, revised upper cowlings for improved aerodynamics, and new main rotor hub and blades.

The Arriel 2K engine is installed in PS4, which will begin flight tests at Kopter’s Mollis, Switzerland facility soon. PS4 includes all developments implemented and tested on the previous AW09 prototype—P3. PS5, the next and final prototype, will fly later this year. Program progress in 2022 includes integration of the engine, flying the latest and final design main rotor blades, and agreeing on the type certification basis with EASA. 

The Mollis facility will continue with the development and test of the AW09 while also serving as a technology incubator for aircraft hybridization and electrification under Leonardo’s “Be Tomorrow 2030” strategic plan.