OUR GREAT MINDS

    by Aaryn Lambert

    The AW189 – AgustaWestland’s New Family Member

    AgustaWestland aims to make the AW189 the benchmark in the medium twin-engine offshore market, as it has done with the 12- to 15-seat AW139 that has become the market leader in its class.

    The AW189 helicopter by AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is intended to fill a market niche between intermediate helicopters, such as its successful intermediate AW139 and heavy helicopters. This new class of helicopter with 16 to 18 seats represents a major investment in the offshore helicopters and has the range required to reach deep-water platforms and drilling rigs, but at a much lower cost than the larger 10-ton class machines.

    Development of the AW189 has made steady progress toward certification and is expected to achieve this target on schedule in the coming months. The AW189 was launched at the Paris Air Show in June 2011, with the first prototype making its maiden flight in December 2011 ahead of schedule, followed by the sixth prototype, which conducted its own maiden flight in May 2013. Collectively, the six aircraft have now logged more than 1000 flight hours, confirming how significant this investment is by AgustaWestland.

    In a typical offshore configuration, the AW189 will be able to transport 12 passengers to a radius of 200 nautical miles, 16 passengers to a radius of 140 nautical miles, and 18 passengers to a radius of 110 nautical miles, including full return fuel plus 10 percent reserves.

    The AW189 is not just about performance: its safety features include the first-ever 50-minute “run dry” capable main gear box—20 minutes more than the current certification standards, giving the AW189 a leg up on both performance and safety.

    Launch customers for the AW189 include major offshore operators such as Bristow Helicopters, Gulf Helicopters, ERA, Bel Air, Bond Helicopters, Weststar Aviation Services, and Azerbaijan Airlines.

    The heli is compliant with Shell’s “7/7=1” helicopter safety strategy and the latest amendments of Certification Specifications/Federal Aviation Regulations Part 29; it adheres to the requirements of Performance Class 1 (or enhanced Performance Class 2) and complies to health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS), traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS), enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS), and helicopter flight data monitoring (HFDM). The program also advocates the use of full-flight simulators (FFS) for training; a Level D FFS for the AW189 is in development and will be available soon after type certification. Several large fleet customers have already bought into this unique concept in the helicopter field by placing orders for two or all three models in the family.

    AgustaWestland currently has more than 80 firm orders and options for the AW189, and is projecting opportunities for around 600 aircraft over the next 20-year period. This is a relatively conservative estimate given the success of the AW139, which was introduced in 2003 and now has a global fleet of more than 550, with a backlog of more than 200, of which 35 percent are for the oil and gas market.

    These two models, together with the 4.5 ton class AW169 (to be certified in 2014), will constitute the AgustaWestland family concept of new generation helicopters. These three models are based on the same design philosophy and share several commonalities and modularity solutions in terms of components, mission capabilities, plus the latest certification and safety standards (FAR Part 29). They have advanced avionics and cockpit look and feel, with a similar approach to maintenance and training. The family concept approach allows maximized effectiveness in helicopter fleet management for operators, introducing at least two out of three types from the family. This excitement translates into a 40 percent reduction in training time for a pilot-type rating from one model to another across the family, with up to 20 percent common parts, and up to 30 percent common maintenance tools and ground support equipment. In summary, an unparalleled versatility and availability rates with operating cost reductions are the results.

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