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PAS 2011: AW139 has 'changed' AgustaWestland's behaviour

20th June 2011 - 17:23 by Tony Osborne in Le Bourget

The success of the AW139 utility helicopter has 'changed' the behaviour of the manufacturer, according its new CEO.

Speaking at the launch of the company's new eight-tonne helicopter, the AW189, Bruno Spagnolini, who recently took over from Giuseppe Orsi, said that ever since the launch of the AW139 in 1999, the company had completely adjusted its course.

'It has changed our behaviour as a company,' said Spagnolini. 'We are now a world class manufacturer, proven by the fact we are able to have challengers in the global helicopter market.'

The AW139 has proved to be a big success for AgustaWestland with orders of the type representing some 9.5% of the company's revenue in 2010.

The aircraft was developed in conjunction with Bell, but the US company pulled out in the run up to the US Army's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) competition. Bell still earns some royalties from AW139 sales, but AgustaWestland have developed the aircraft further with specialist SAR variants and a military version being prepared to meet the needs of the US Air Force's CVLSP requirement.

The extended fuselage military variant, the AW149, and now the AW189 all stem from the AW139.

As Spagnolini said: 'The AW139 and the AW189 are two very different aircraft but they both share the same general concept in architecture.'

Some 530 AW139s have been ordered, and 400 have been built; the 400th aircraft, a Qatar Emiri Air Force example - one of 18 being built for that air arm - is on display at the Paris Air Show, while the second prototype AW149 is taking part in the flying display.

The company is currently building 90 AW139s a year from its production lines in the US and in Italy, but this number is set to rise to 100 in 2012.

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