Flying, Italian Style: Leonardo’s AW169 VIP Helicopter
Leonardo has delivered 50 of its AW169 helicopters so far, with more than 170 on order, and approximately 40 percent of the medium twins ordered have been sold with VIP interiors. The company displayed one equipped with an executive interior at the Heli-Expo show in Las Vegas, before taking it on a demo tour through the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. The Italian manufacturer has set the venerable Sikorsky S-76 in its sights, which has been the gold standard in corporate helicopters for decades.
The medium-twin AW169 is a relatively new helicopter, which is a downsized version of its larger sibling, the popular AW139. It received EASA approval in mid-2016 and FAA approval in early 2017.
The helicopter features a pair of 1,000-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A engines and Rockwell Collins glass-panel touchscreen avionics with four-axis digital automatic flight control system and dual flight management systems. AW169s are also equipped with a variable-speed main rotor, which improves efficiency and reduces external noise, and the helicopter is the first in its category entering the market with electrically actuated retractable landing gear. Top cruising speed is 155 knots and maximum range is 505 nm. The 222-cu-ft cabin can accommodate seven to 10 passengers.
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