Leonardo Helicopters' AW139 has established itself as one of the premier helicopter emergency service platforms around the world over a 20-year lifespan.
Blessed with large doors, an array of automation systems, retractable undercart and two Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67C FADEC turbine engines, the AW139 is seen as having the crucial characteristics needed for demanding emergency service missions.
The first aircraft took to the skies from the Agusta-Westland facility in Cascina Costa di Samarate, Italy, on 3 February 2001. The helicopter flew for 45 minutes checking initial airworthiness tests, hovering, lateral and forward flight, handling qualities and subsystems.
After a three-year development period, the first customer aircraft was delivered in early 2004.
Twenty years later, 1100 aircraft have been delivered to 280 operators, with the world-wide fleet amassing 3 million flight hours, mostly on emergency service and police operations.
"Use testifies the extreme versatility of the AW139, which satisfies any market need: approximately half the world’s fleet for public utility tasks such as search and rescue and air ambulance, law enforcement, fire-fighting, disaster relief and military duties," Leonardo Helicopter said.
"The rest account for a leading position in its class in the offshore transport sector, plus VIP, institutional and corporate transport as well as other civil missions."
Demand for the AW139 has driven the company to operate two manufacturing plants: Vergiate in Italy, and Philadelphia in the United States. The US plant has accounted for about 30% of all deliveries.
"Despite the experience and maturity achieved in almost 17 years of operational activity, the AW139 remains a young and modern programme, destined to play a leading role into the future," Leonardo believes.
"The AW139 truly embeds all areas of excellence and leadership in its field at Leonardo such as transmissions and dynamics, system integration and customisation, best in class performance, mission versatility, latest safety standards and a comprehensive range of increasingly localised customer support and training services and solutions, developed and grown to allow customers worldwide to maximise the capabilities of the type."
Currently there are more than 60 AW139s on the Australian Civil Register, employed mainly on helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), police air wing and offshore missions.