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Helitech 2018: Leonardo undaunted by super-medium competition

9th October 2018 - 11:00 GMT | by Tim Martin in London

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As optimism returns to the oil and gas sector, a market leader of the super-medium class Leonardo, is fully confident its AW189 aircraft will continue to dominate industry competitors.  

According to the company, orders, deliveries and flight hours of the 8t category helicopter, outstrip those of Airbus and Bell, both of whom are considered the main contenders aiming to knock the Anglo-Italian manufacturer off its perch.

‘The production rate is significant in its category,’ a Leonardo spokesperson told Shephard, in a statement. ‘We have received orders (including options) for around 160 units to date and delivered over 60 to customers worldwide logging approximately 45,000 flight hours across the fleet in operations.’

With the AW189K variant also undergoing engine testing, there is growing evidence that the programme is set to expand capabilities with customers eventually set to be offered the Safran Aneto 1K powerplant, a considerable upgrade on the current GE CT7-2E1 turboshaft.

No firm indication was provided from the spokesperson in suggesting a timeframe for the entire testing period or subsequent entry to market.

From an oil and gas perspective, the spokesperson explained that integration of an avionics suite with automatic oil rig approach performance has been designed to address and improve AW189 flight safety.

On the SAR front, it is claimed that operators will also benefit from the aircraft’s ‘new ground speed mode on five available search patterns’, a feature enabling a consistent ground speed to be travelled during challenging and complex missions.  

In more welcome news for Leonardo, last month, it was also confirmed that the Bristow Group had been selected to operate two AW189s on behalf of the British HM Coastguard's SAR helicopter base at St Athan.

The pair of helicopters are scheduled to replace AW139 helicopters, joining existing AW189s in service at Lydd, Lee-on-Solent and Prestwick. 

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