AgustaWestland has increased the rate at which it develops new helicopters to meet increasing demand for a variety of helicopters. Consequently, helicopter development time frame has been compressed from the previous six years to three years starting from development and design to certification, manufacture and testing.
First introduced at the Paris Air Show in 2011, the AW189 recently achieved military certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as well as the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year and was put into full-scale production only three years since its design inception.
AgustaWestland is now schedule to deliver the first two AW189s in offshore configuration to Bristow Group in the coming year.
The AW189 was designed in response to the growing market demand for a versatile, affordable, multirole medium twin engine helicopter. The new 8.3 tonne AW189 is optimized for long range offshore transport and SAR missions and has already received orders for 130 helicopters, including options and framework contract.
“We’ve gone from launching to delivery in less than three years. And by doing the design and development and setting up the production in a short time it’s cost effective,” Geoff Russell, Head of Media Relations at AgustaWestland explained.
The AW169, another member of the AgustaWestland family of helicopters, was launched in 2010 which Russell says will receive certification later this year.
The twin-engine helicopter is designed to meet the growing market demand for a versatile and multi-role 4-tonne class rotorcraft. It is engineered to satisfy the operational and mission requirements of the most demanding parapublic and commercial operators. The AW169 employs new technologies to achieve unique adaptability across multiple applications with very competitive economics, according to the AgustaWestland website.
“Our process begins with market research and what the likely demand will be and then we talk to future and existing customers to decide what they would like to see in terms of features,” according to Russell. “It is based on this research that AgustaWestland decided to compress the time of production. It is not that we have increased man-power, either. We are using existing resources to achieve this task", he said.