AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the first prototype of the AW149 multi-role military medium twin helicopter successfully completed its maiden flight on November 13th at AgustaWestland's Vergiate plant. The aircraft, flown by AgustaWestland Chief Test Pilot Giuseppe Lo Coco, performed as expected undertaking a 20 minutes flight that included an assessment of the helicopter's general handling and basic systems. The first helicopter will be followed by a second prototype in 2010 with the aim to achieve initial operational capability in 2014.
Giuseppe Orsi, CEO, AgustaWestland, commented "The maiden flight of the AW149 adds to the recently accomplished first flights of the T129, the AW101 in the latest variant and AW159, confirming the company's capability to continuously develop new products to maintain its competitive edge and to offer the market the most complete and modern product range".
Bruno Spagnolini, COO, AgustaWestland said "We are proud to have achieved this major milestone seeing the only new generation medium twin military helicopter take to the air. AgustaWestland is once more demonstrating its ability to develop the very latest rotorcraft technology designed to meet a range of requirements".
The first AW149 prototype is fully representative of the AW149 final configuration with respect to the airframe and avionics, whilst the second prototype will fly in the final configuration incorporating two 2000 shp class GE CT7-2E1 turbines with FADEC and an all new transmission system. With a fully digital avionics system with open architecture and fully integrated mission equipment, a modern glass cockpit and a 4-axis auto-pilot, the AW149 8 ton class helicopter is specifically designed for modern battlefield operations. The AW149 is fitted with the latest all weather day-night operational capabilities, dedicated avionics and a NVG-compatible cockpit, while rotor ice protection will be available as an option.
The AW149, by its open architecture design, will be capable of being fitted with role equipment and systems as required by the customer to perform a wide range of roles and also to be easily re-roled or upgraded to meet future requirements. Advanced sensors, communication and data sharing systems provide high situational awareness for network-centric environments. The AW149, capable of seating up to 18 troops, is perfectly suited to perform a wide range of duties such as troop transport, battlefield and logistic operations, fire support, SAR and combat SAR, special forces operations, reconnaissance, surveillance, CASEVAC, command control & communication, external load lifting as well as VIP military transport.
The AW149 has been developed to meet the Italian Air Force requirement for a new medium class SAR helicopter. The AW149 is also being offered in the marketplace to meet the demand for a modern technology helicopter to replace thousands of older generation helicopters in service with military operators worldwide. A customised version of the AW149, named the TUHP149, is the candidate for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme (TUHP).
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