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All posts for the month January, 2023

A new Photo Report Page dedicated to the event held in Vergiate (VA) on day 24th January 2023 is now available. 55 images will cover completely the delivery cerimony.

My special thanks to Leonardo Helicopters Communication / Ufficio Stampa for the possibility given to follow the event and picture the new helicopter for the website readers.

PRESS RELEASE – Rome/Bordes,  26 January 2023

  • The production configuration of the next generation single-engine helicopter will be powered by the Arriel 2K engine, the latest version of the Arriel family.
  • The AW09 will leverage the proven technology and reliability of this engine family together with innovative and efficient global support solutions to respond to current and future single-engine market expectations.
  • The latest AW09 prototype, PS4, is about to start flight test activities with the Arriel 2K engine at Kopter’s facility in Mollis (Switzerland).

Leonardo and Safran Helicopter Engines announced today they have joined forces to further enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of the next generation AW09 single-engine helicopter.

The production aircraft will feature the 1,000 shp class of power Arriel 2K engine, the newest generation of the Arriel family. 

The selection of the new engine guarantees the most efficient level of industrialization, global supply and supportability for customers. The combined Leonardo and Safran Helicopter Engines support network will provide innovative, simplified and competitive maintenance solutions and cost of operations, sustained by tailored service plans and SBH® (Support-By-the-Hour) contracts as well as a large range of digital services. 

Leonardo and Safran Helicopter Engines boast a longstanding and now further expanding partnership spanning from propulsion systems for light twins up to super medium class helicopters. The two companies also share now the highest level of interest and commitment for the single-engine commercial market and its future evolution.

Gian Piero Cutillo, MD of Leonardo Helicopters, said: “Since the integration of Kopter into our organization and the introduction of the AW09 into our product range, we have firmly maintained our commitment to deliver to the market exactly what it expects from a single engine of the latest standards backed by an efficient and responsive global support network. The decision to select this propulsion system is totally consistent with this strategy and we look forward to working with our partner to bring the most modern single engine on the commercial market.” 

Franck Saudo, Safran Helicopter Engines CEO, commented: “We are proud that Leonardo has placed its trust once again in Safran Helicopter Engines to power its latest light helicopter. We will bring to the AW09 our strong expertise in single-engine helicopter applications together with the specific features of the engine. The Arriel 2K engine is the latest version of the well-known Arriel engine family and will clearly bring high level of capability, reliability and ease of operations to the AW09.”

The new propulsion system is already installed on the latest AW09 prototype, PS4 (Pre Series 4), which is about to start flight test activities at Kopter’s facility in Mollis. PS4 includes all developments implemented and tested on P3, the previous prototype, allowing to reach the AW09 final configuration. PS5, the next and final prototype is planned to follow later in 2023. 

The AW09 programme performed major steps forward in 2022 in parallel to the integration of the production propulsion system, including flying the new & final main rotor blades and agreeing the type certification basis with EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency). 

The AW09 will continue to be developed by Kopter in Switzerland with the contribution of joint Leonardo-Kopter teams. Kopter is set to become a Centre of Competence for new light helicopters and an incubator of new technologies for vertical flight. As such, it will contribute to the development of new hybrid and electrical propulsion systems and will play an important role in the framework of Leonardo’s Be Tomorrow 2030 strategic plan, which aims to be in the leading position on the civil rotorcraft market and modern air mobility. 

The single-engine AW09 offers increased modularity, modern electronic systems, high digitalization and the largest cabin and cargo hold in its category. Its superior characteristics – including fast cruise speeds and hot-and-high capabilities – are combined with a low noise signature resulting from the newly-developed dynamic assembly and shrouded tail-rotor.

Safran Helicopter Engines is the propulsion market leader for single-engine helicopters. The Arriel is one of Safran’s best sellers with over 15 000 engines in operation. Every day the engine enhances its reputation as a safe and reliable partner, especially for operators flying demanding EMS, search and rescue, law enforcement, maritime surveillance missions and aerial work.

PRESS RELEASE – Rome,  24 January 2023

  • The aircraft will be part of a fleet of 24 units, including six with fixed landing gear and 18 with skids. Deliveries are expected to be completed in 2024, complementing a fleet of 20 AW139s   
  • The global AW169 fleet, with more than 150 units delivered to operators in nearly 30 countries, has logged in excess of 135,000 flight hours in all conditions and a variety of operations. Customers worldwide have placed orders and options for over 320 AW169 helicopters to date

Leonardo and Guardia di Finanza (Italy’s Police Force with general capability in economic and financial matters as well as the only maritime Police Force in Italy) celebrated today the delivery of the operator’s first AW169M light-intermediate twin engine helicopter in a special configuration featuring skids. The handover was performed at Leonardo’s Vergiate assembly line (Varese) during an official ceremony in presence of representatives from the customer and the company. 

The aircraft will be part of an AW169M fleet of 24 units, including six with fix landing gear and eighteen with skid undercarriage. All aircraft are expected to be delivered by 2024 complementing a fleet of 20 AW139 intermediate twin helicopters. The AW169Ms are used for various tasks including: maritime police/patrol, homeland customs security, law enforcement, rescue, and other security duties. 

Guardia di Finanza first received the military-certified AW169M in late 2019, enhancing its fleet modernisation plans. The aircraft of Guardia di Finanza feature a dedicated configuration including: a rescue hoist, an emergency floatation system and life rafts, wire cutters, TCAS II (Traffic Collision Avoidance System), a NVG (Night Vision Goggle) compatible cockpit, HTAWS (Helicopter Terrain Awareness Warning System), an advanced communication system, advanced HUMS (Health Usage Monitoring System), a searchlight, an ice detector, SATCOM, mobile phone detector and hyperspectral detection and reconnaissance system. The helicopters are also fitted with a range of Leonardo systems such as a RW ATOS (Airborne Tactical Observation and Surveillance) system with an advanced operator console, Gabbiano radar, LEOSS (Long Range Electro-Optical Surveillance System), M428 IFF transponder, OPLS (Obstacle Proximity Lidar System), V/UHF radio systems cockpit panels and lighting. 

The latest delivery introduces unique IFR, single pilot, Advanced Search and Rescue (SAR) Modes with dedicated FMS (Flight Management System) search patterns enabling the aircraft to automatically fly along a predefined search path, which reduces pilot’s workload on the search phase of a SAR mission. The AW169 is the only helicopter in its weight category that features Advanced SAR Modes.

The AW169M represents the military variant of the AW169, the future generation helicopter developed by Leonardo. It is equipped with state-of-the-art on board technologies, designed to the latest FAR/JAR/EASA requirements as well as those standards of military, homeland security and government users.

The platform features outstanding power, agility and manoeuvrability, which provides excellent handling characteristics in a wide range of operating conditions including hot and high. The unique transmission design provides power to hydraulic, electrical and air conditioning systems with the rotors stopped (APU mode) optimising response time and availability. The cabin is the most spacious in its class and features a constant height cross section for rapid reconfiguration and ease of access. Pilots benefit from a latest-generation, open-architecture avionics suite, including a fully-digital glass cockpit and unprecedented external visibility, providing advanced tactical and situational awareness.

The global AW169 fleet, with more than 150 units delivered to operators in nearly 30 countries, has logged in excess of 135,000 flight hours in all kind of operations and conditions. Customers worldwide have placed orders and options for over 320 AW169 helicopters to date, including military and law enforcement/public service operators, to carry out a range of missions including utility, surveillance, special operations, maritime patrol, land reconnaissance, training, rescue and fire-fighting. In Italy, the adoption of the AW169M by operators among armed forces and government law enforcement agencies replacing many ageing models provides the advantage of unique logistical, operational and technical, certification and training commonalities and synergies across the growing AW169 fleets. This strengthens the possibility to perform effective and safe joint operations with other users of this modern type and represents a quantum leap in homeland security, emergency response capability and overall through-lifecycle costs/effectiveness for decades to come. 

PRESS RELEASE – Rome,  21 December 2022 15:33

  • The first of 18 helicopters was delivered in line with contractual obligations. The Austrian MoD’s AW169M LUH programme begins a new era in national defence and emergency response capabilities.  
  • Options for an additional 18 helicopters have been exercised in the framework of the Italy-Austria G2G initiative aimed at reinforcing the bilateral collaboration between the two countries and establishing a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector. 
  • Profumo: “We’re pleased to see the first helicopter in Austria and we welcome the decision to further expand the fleet. We look forward to providing an even greater contribution to meet the requirements set by the collaboration between the two governments.”

The Austrian Ministry of Defence’s AW169M LUH helicopter programme set a major milestone today with the delivery of the first aircraft from an initial order of 18 units, based on the Italy-Austria Government-to-Government (G2G) Agreement announced by the relevant Authorities at the end of 2021.

The handover of the aircraft, built at Leonardo’s Vergiate facility in Italy, achieved in line with the contractual obligations, was performed during an official ceremony held at the Tulln-Langenlebarn Brumowski Air Base, in the presence of Leonardo’s senior management. Austria and Italy also announced today a G2G Agreement amendment through which Austria is exercising options for an additional 18 helicopters, providing further evidence of its confidence in the selected platform. 

The Italy-Austria G2G initiative is aimed at reinforcing the bilateral collaboration between the two countries and establishing a strategic partnership in the rotorcraft sector, with Austria looking at Italy and the AW169M LUH programme for its modernisation plan and the replacement of its ageing Alouette III aircraft fleet, which have been in service since the 1960s. 

The first aircraft’s handover marks a significant leap forward for Austria, starting a new era in national defence and emergency response capabilities. Furthermore, it also represents an important milestone for Leonardo, celebrating the first delivery to the export market of the AW169M variant, under a G2G programme. Austrian crews have already been leveraging initial training supplied at Leonardo’s Training Academy in Sesto Calende (Italy) and will be supported by the Italian Army’s training capabilities as an AW169M LUH operator.

The AW169M LUH, with its superior performance and unmatched latest generation capabilities, as well as the complete support and training services to perform true multirole operations, is the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to meet the rigorous needs of the operator. The AW169M LUHs will be able to carry out a wide range of missions supporting Austrian defence requirements and the national community, such as troop transport, combat operations, disaster relief and emergency response, fire-fighting, mountain rescue and MEDEVAC. 

Alessandro Profumo, Chief Executive Officer of Leonardo, said: “It gives us great pleasure to see the first AW169M LUH here in Austria and we welcome the decision to further expand the fleet. We look forward to providing an even greater contribution with the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to meet the stringent requirements set by the collaboration between the two governments. We’re committed to sustaining this important and growing programme.” 

Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters, added: “The development of this programme and the handover of the first aircraft in line with the delivery schedule is the result of an amazing collaboration among all the involved parties. We know the outstanding technology, performance, multirole capabilities and complete services of the type will significantly boost national defence and emergency response, even more with today’s decision to rely on an even larger fleet in the future.”