New Generation AW169 Helicopter Lands in London
The AW169 is the only new generation helicopter in its weight category in decades and AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility in the UK is extensively involved in the design, development and manufacturing programme, following a pound22 million loan announced in July 2011 by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. The AW169 programme marks the beginning of a new era for the Yeovil plant with a move into the commercial helicopter business. Commercial helicopter work will become an increasing important part of AgustaWestland's UK business alongside its business with the UK Ministry of Defence and military export customers.
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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 multi-role capabilities. The AW169 incorporates several new technology features to provide the highest levels of safety and operational benefits for its customers. New generation technologies are incorporated in the rotor system, engines, avionics, transmission and electric power generation and distribution systems. The AW169 is set to be the most advanced and cost effective helicopter in its class for air ambulance, search and rescue, law enforcement, passenger and offshore transport, as well as various utility missions including offshore wind farm support.
AgustaWestland and its many suppliers in the UK will play a major role in the design, development and manufacture of the rotor blades and intermediate and tail gearboxes and tail rotor hub, thus keeping Yeovil as a world centre of excellence in these key rotorcraft technological areas. AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility will also undertake flight testing with one of the four AW169 prototypes and lead the development of the training infrastructure and courseware for aircrew and ground crew training.
The AW169 has become a central element of AgustaWestland UK's diversification strategy to protect and grow the skills and capabilities required for a strong helicopter industry in the UK. The commercial helicopter market is a new sector for UK advanced manufacturing, with the UK helicopter market being the largest in Europe. The UK commercial helicopter market, in both the public and private sectors, will also now be able to purchase a helicopter with a UK pedigree, with a full suite of support capabilities available onshore. AgustaWestland is forecasting sales of nearly 1000 AW169 helicopters worldwide over a 25 year period.
The AW169 indeed has achieved a very positive response from helicopter operators around the world with a significant number of firm orders already logged both in UK and worldwide for a range of applications. The Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) signed a preliminary sale contract in July for two AW169 helicopters specially configured for the WNAA's air ambulance mission requirements. Bond Aviation Group and AgustaWestland have recently signed an MoU that will see both companies work together to establish a multi-year contract, which includes the purchase of AW169s for various missions. Other AW169 customers announced include INAER in Europe, Capitale Helicopters in Canada and Falcon Aviation Services in the UAE.
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Source : AgustaWestland, A Finmeccanica Company (Milan: FNC.MI)