AgustaWestland (Cascina Costa di Samarate, Italy) has announced that the new generation AW169 light intermediate 4.5-tonne class helicopter has entered full scale production, with the first aircraft now on the final assembly line at its Vergiate facility in Italy. The event marks a major milestone ahead of EASA certification, with deliveries to the first batch of customers set to start in the 2nd quarter of 2015. The AW169 is the first all new aircraft in its weight category to enter the market in nearly forty years. The AW169 flight test program, utilizing four prototypes, has so far amassed over 1200 flying hours during flight testing in Italy, the UK and US. A second AW169 final assembly line is planned at AgustaWestland’s Philadelphia plant in the US, while AgustaWestland’s Yeovil plant in the UK is already playing a key role in the production of rotor blades and tail rotor transmission system.
The AW169 has been designed in response to the growing market demand for an aircraft that delivers high performance, meets all the latest safety standards and has versatile multi-role capabilities. It features a large, unobstructed cabin that can comfortably accommodate up to 10 passengers and an eco-friendly design which benefits from extensive use of composites, advanced airframe aerodynamics, next generation navigation avionics and state-of-the-art systems. In fact, Agusta Westland claims that the AW169 is lighter thatn Sikorsky's S-76D, with a longer and wider passenger cabin and almost 25% wider baggage compartment thanks to the strategic use of composites, including a revolutionary thermoplastic tailplane.
The AW169 is designed with inherent ease of maintenance, for reliable, intensive use in the most demanding conditions with high time between overhauls (TBO) — which has been optimized to maximize aircraft availability — and minimal life-limited parts. to reduce maintenance man hours per flight hour. Over 120 AW169 helicopters have been ordered by customers around the world for a wide range of applications including executive and private transport, air ambulance, law enforcement, offshore transport and utility roles.