First AgustaWestland AW189 takes to the air

Four months after going into production, the first AgustaWestland AW189 8-tonne-class twin-engine helicopter to roll off the line has taken its maiden flight at the company’s Vergiate plant in Italy.

Designed to meet market demand for a versatile, affordable, multirole medium helicopter, the AW189 is optimised for long-range offshore transport and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions. The aircraft used in the maiden flight is destined to be delivered to the UK’s Bristow Helicopters by the end of the year to carry out offshore transport missions in the North Sea. AgustaWestland says that it has already received orders for more than 80 aircraft.

The cabin has a standard 16-seat configuration, but can be changed to a high-density 18-seat or a long-range 12-seat layout. AgustaWestland says the aircraft “is unique in having a 50-minute ‘run-dry’ capable main gear box, exceeding current certification standards and offering unmatched safety and reliability for long range offshore operations”.

The AW189 has a number of features that give it wide operational capabilities, including:

Offshore: All Weather Day and Night, VFR/IFR certified; high cruising speed and very high payload due to a highly efficient rotor system; superior OEI capability; enhanced situational awareness via next-generation avionics.

SAR: Unobstructed cabin accommodates rescue crew, longitudinal and transversal stretchers and mission consoles.

Parapublic: Can be configured with a wide range of advanced sensors, role and communication equipment; flexible cabin space; quickly removable options such as a fast rope system and cargo hook for special forces and utility operations.

Corporate/VIP: Speed and low internal vibration and noise deliver heightened passenger comfort; Auxiliary Power Unit on the ground provides air conditioning without the need to engage rotors; VVIP interiors available.

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