Leonardo has received EASA certification approvals for its light intermediate twin AW169 helicopter equipped with skids and for use of the aircraft in single-pilot IFR advanced search and rescue (SAR) operations. The company also appointed HeliService International in Germany as an approved maintenance center of excellence for its AW109, AW139, and AW169 models.
The single-pilot SAR approval follows the addition of AW169 enhancements including Phase 8 core avionics software release combined with helicopter terrain awareness warning system offshore modes. Leonardo stated that the AW169 is the only modern CS-29 certified helicopter in its weight class that offers a choice of retractable or fixed landing gear and skids and the first civil-certified rotorcraft with IFR single pilot SAR modes operational capability.
The advanced SAR modes introduce dedicated flight management system search patterns that enable the aircraft to automatically fly predefined search paths, reducing pilot workload. Additional kits under development for the AW169 include a modular auxiliary fuel tank and a 3-seat third-row seating configuration that increases passenger capacity to 11.
Over 300 AW169s are on order and approximately 150 are in service in 25 countries. The fleet has logged more than 125,000 flight hours.
AW169 models can be supported by HeliService. The company is an established AW139 and AW169 operator for offshore wind farm support missions in the North Sea and plans on expanding these operations to Asia and the United States. Its appointment by Leonardo as a center of excellence increases the number of independent service centers so designated worldwide to six joining three others in Europe, one in the U.S., and one in Japan. To be designated a center of excellence a company must be “focused on maintaining third-party fleets and having the largest scope of service capabilities to meet specific market needs,” according to Leonardo. The total number of Leonardo-authorized service centers worldwide is 110.
Established in 1987, HeliService provides SAR, passenger, wind farm and maritime vessel support, and cargo flights as well as flight training and aircraft maintenance. Flight operations are based at Bremerhaven and Husum, Germany, and Esbjerg, Denmark.