UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


AW139 AB139

AgustaWestland is the first rotorcraft manufacturer to introduce a Family of new generation helicopters. The AW169, AW139 and AW189 offers the market a Family of products spanning the 4 to 8-tonne weight classes. Sharing a common design approach and cockpit, complying with the latest safety and certification standards and with maintenance and training commonalities; the Family concept offers a range of benefits to operators of more than one type. Establishing the advantage of this common design philosophy serving a wide range of missions, minimising operating costs and enhancing operational flexibility, AgustaWestland is providing new cost saving opportunities for helicopter fleet operators.

Commonality in performance across a fleet allows operators to develop/use similar procedures and operational approaches. Similarities in equipment packages ensure common procedures & training are built for the Family-based fleet, enhancing flexibility in planning. A common stock of removable items across the fleet, for example passenger seats, offers greater flexibility. Similarities in systems architecture and positioning in the airframe provide a common approach to the helicopters maintenance. Fleet management in hangar is also optimized thanks to a common set of ground support equipment and maintenance tools. Savings in training are achievable due to a reduction in time for pilot type ratings when moving from one platform to another within the Family.

Development of the AW139 began on on 8 September 1998, when Bell and Agusta announced that they had agreed to establish a joint venture to manage development of two new aircraft: the BA609 tiltrotor, previously a Bell and Boeing program, and the AB139, a new helicopter announced on the same day. Following approval of both boards, a definitive agreement was signed on 06 November 1998. Bell is the majority shareholder and will undertake final assembly for AB139s delivered to North America. Risk-sharing collaborators included GKN Westland (tail rotor drive train), Honeywell (avionics), Kawasaki (transmission input module), Liebherr Germany (landing gear and air conditioning system), Pratt & Whitney Canada (power plant) and PZL Swidnik (airframe components). The AB139 made its debut public appearance in July 2002 at the Farnborough Air Show, UK, where it made daily displays demonstrating its agility, power margins and low noise levels, all hallmarks of this new benchmark medium twin helicopter.

Bell sold their stake in the AB139 program to AgustaWestland in November 2005. Following the sale, in February 2006 the helicopter was renamed AW139.

The AB139 medium-twin engine helicopter was capable of carrying up to 15 passengers or 2,500kg (5,500 lbs) useful load, at 157 knots, in the a spacious cabin and with power to spare. The two Pratt & Whitney, Canada, PT6C-67C engines ensure the AB139 maintains high cruise speeds in excess of 150 knots at all weights, high temperatures and altitudes, with ample power margins. In addition, Category A Class 1 performance, without payload loss, is assured. AB139 customers were assured by the manufacturer to enjoy an aircraft designed to meet today's JAR29/FAR29 standards. The AW139 combines the benefits of proven technology and at the time new-generation system integration and compliance with the demanding JAR/FAR 29 standards.

The AW139 has a maximum cruise speed of 165 knots (306 km/h) and a maximum range in excess of 570 nm (1060 km) with auxiliary fuel tanks. The aircraft has outstanding one engine inoperative capabilities, even in hot and high operating conditions. The advanced integrated cockpit minimises pilot workload allowing the crew to concentrate on mission objectives. This aircraft was advertised as setting a new standard against which all medium-twin helicopters would be measured to satisfy the operator's needs. The AW139 sets standards for multi-mission performance with its unrivaled range; the highest power-to-weight ratio in its class; and its performance in high and hot conditions, with a cruise speed of 165 knots. The AW139 features a low acoustic signature, integrated mission avionics and is available with a full ice protection system, allowing aircrews to accomplish missions in the most demanding, all-weather conditions.

The major market segments of Offshore, Corporate, VIP, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Law Enforcement were all represented. The AW139 is already carrying out homeland security, law enforcement, coast guard and public utility roles in a large number of countries in Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America. The AW139, thanks to its outstanding features, has been identified and selected by Russian industry as the benchmark helicopter in the light medium weight category to meet a wide range of civil requirements. Due to its unmatched capabilities to operate in adverse weather conditions, the AW139 is perfectly suited not only for VIP/corporate transport purposes in Russia but also to meet the requirements of the parapublic market.

By 2012 almost 170 customers from more than 50 countries had ordered nearly 640 AW139 helicopters to perform a wide range of roles including law enforcement, homeland security, border/coast guard duties, emergency medical services, fire fighting, search and rescue, VIP/corporate transport, offshore transport and passenger shuttle services.

A civil AW139 assembly line in Tomilino, near Moscow, started operations in 2012. The plant is run by HeliVert, a Joint Venture company established by Russian Helicopters (a subsidiary of JSC UIC Oboronprom, part of Russian Technologies State Corporation) and AgustaWestland. The plant will have the capacity to assemble up to 20 helicopters per year, with production set to start in the coming months and progressively increasing to a steady state regime by 2015. The facility will employ over 100 people by 2015 when full production is established. The plant will meet the growing demand for the AW139 helicopters in both Russian and CIS civil markets.

The first of ten Italian Air Force’s HH-139A medium twin engine helicopters has entered operational service. A ceremony held 08 March 2012 at Cervia Air Base marked this achievement. These helicopters will supplement ageing HH-212 and HH-3F helicopters in the role of search and rescue operations across the nation. The remaining HH-139As will be delivered to the Air Force by the end of this year and are the first examples of the AW139M dedicated military variant to be delivered. This significant event is the first major step in support of the service’s modernization programme which will also see the HH-101 “CAESAR” replacing the HH-3F Pelicans in the Combat SAR role. The HH-139A will complement the HH-101s while providing a quantum leap forward in operational capabilities and cost effectiveness compared to the present fleet of HH-3Fs and HH-212s. The HH-139A has been selected as an interim solution for the Italian Air Force’s SAR fleet replacement and modernization program. The Italian Air Force joins a number of other military customers who are already operating the AW139 including the Irish Air Corps, the United Arab Emirates Air Force and the Qatar Armed Forces. The Italian Air Force’s HH-139A features an all new heavy duty landing gear providing higher ground clearance and improved crashworthiness, secure communications suite including IFF and an integrated defensive aids suite.

Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) Deepwater

Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) selected AB139 as its recommended helicopter for the US Coast Guard Deepwater Program. The AB139 Vertical Recovery and Surveillance (VRS) was proposed as the Integrated Deepwater System medium-range recovery aircraft, and would begin introduction in 2014. These helicopters would be used as medium range responders for offshore operations, and could provide shore-based aviation surveillance capability. In addition, these aircraft would be used to meet rotary-wing Non-Deepwater Aviation Demand missions and are capable of deploying aboard NSCs and OPCs.

Following the ICGS recommendation that the AB139 for the USCG Deepwater helicopter solution a number of US Government Agencies showed a keen interest in the helicopter. The AB139s various features were advertised as ideally suited as an Emergency Response vehicle, whether overland or at sea, as does its fully integrated Honeywell Primus Epic System cockpit and display providing for IFR operations.

Assembly for the AB139 was initially planned to be undertaken in Italy at Agusta's Vergiate plant, near Milan, prior to the establishment of a Bell AB139 assembly facility in Texas, which would be coupled with support, spares distribution and training for customers in the USA.

On 18 June 2003, the AB139 (by then called the AW139 after Bell dropped out of the project and was replaced by Westland) received its Italian IFR Type Certification. Mr. DiPalma, Managing Director of the Italian Certification Air Worthiness Authority (ENAC), signed and handed over the AW139 Type Certificate to Mr. Amedeo Caporaletti, CEO AgustaWestland and Chairman of Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company, at a ceremony at the Paris Air Show, Le Bourget. The certification was the culmination of 1600 hours of ground and flight test programs.

US139 Light Utility Helicopter (LUH)

On 3 October 2005 AgustaWestland, Inc. (AWI) headquartered in Reston, Virginia and L-3 Communications Integrated Systems (L-3/IS) of Waco, Texas, announced their partnership and product entry in the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) competition at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Annual meeting in Washington, DC. Prime contractor AWI and principal partner L-3/IS offered a version of their existing AW139, the US139, to the Army for LUH.

The US139 was a customized, non-developmental variant of the modern, FAA certified, AW139 twin-engine helicopter then in service worldwide. It was said to have the most spacious, functional and flexible cabin in its class, capable of carrying 15 passengers or 4 stretchers with 6 passengers. The US139 was capable of cruising in excess of 165 knots with a useful load of more than 6,000 lbs, designed from its inception as the replacement to the UH-1 "Huey."

L-3/IS would perform final assembly and customization of Government specific avionics for the US139 helicopter at their Waco, Texas location utilizing Lean Manufacturing/Six Sigma facilities designed and laid out for this effort. In addition, L-3/IS would provide Contractor Logistic Support for the US139 LUH fleet.

In addition to its outstanding performance, capability and size, the US139 was compliant to the demanding FAR/JAR 29 standards. It also offered true Category A Performance certification, meaning that it was capable of flying away at max gross weight on only one engine. The US139 was said to have growth potential, able to exceed the existing requirements with the flexibility to meet the demands of the future.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 08-03-2017 19:31:41 ZULU