The first production AW189 8-tonne class twin engine helicopter from AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, has made its maiden flight at the company’s Vergiate, Italy, plant. The aircraft is expected to be delivered to Bristow Helicopters Ltd. by year end to carry out offshore transport missions in the North Sea, with operational readiness planned in early 2014. Two additional AW189 helicopters are currently under assembly in Vergiate.
Daniele Romiti, CEO, AgustaWestland says “Completing the very first AW189 which will enter operational service is a tremendous program achievement to AgustaWestland and to our customer. With this event we’ve brought to life the first and only new generation production aircraft in its category with an extremely reduced time to market, meeting the most stringent requirements set by the relevant authorities and by the market. With many orders by a number of major customers already logged to date, we’re confident that this will be just the first of hundreds of AW189s to be delivered in the coming years.”
The AW189 Type Board Meeting, the most important milestone in the completion of the type certification activities, was successfully held at the EASA headquarters in Cologne, Germany, during the last week of September. As for the foreseen exit criteria of the meeting, a plan toward the type certification release was established, focusing on the accomplishment of the remaining requirements. These typically include the final EASA validation activities onboard of the first, fully representative production aircraft, which is now ready to fly at AgustaWestland’s Vergiate plant.
Two pre-production helicopters have been devoted to the development of offshore and search and rescue configurations and mission kits. This will allow making basic mission kits immediately certified and available to customers once the aircraft are delivered, reducing the time for customers to get crews and aircraft operationally ready.
Also, initial support services have just been made available to operators with an AW189 Flight Training Device (FTD) recently qualified by an EASA / ENAC joint team to FTD Level 2, installed in the new simulation building which will also include an AW189 Full Flight FFS.
A second AW189 final assembly line is being established at AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility in the UK, which will initially build the AW189 helicopters that will be used for the UK's new Search and Rescue service.
The new AW189 helicopter, optimized for long-range offshore transport and SAR missions, has already received orders for more than 80 units. The cabin is configured with 16 seats as standard, and seating options include a high-density 18-seat or a long-range 12-seat layout.
The AW189 features a 50 minute run-dry capable main gear box, exceeding current certification standards and offering safety and reliability for long range offshore operations.
The AW189 is part of the AgustaWestland family of new generation helicopters that includes the AW139 and AW169 models that share a common cockpit layout, design philosophy, and maintenance concept.