First production AW189 helicopter makes maiden flight
AgustaWestland’s first production AW189 helicopter, expected to be delivered to Bristow Helicopters by the end of the year, made its maiden flight at the company’s Vergiate facility in Italy.
This AW189 will operate offshore transport missions in the North Sea which should begin in early 2014. Two additional AW189 helicopters are currently under assembly in Vergiate.
Daniele Romiti, chief executive officer of AgustaWestland, said: “Completing the very first AW189 which will enter operational service is a tremendous programme achievement to AgustaWestland and to our customer.”
“With this event we’ve brought to life the first and only new generation production aircraft in its category with an extremely reduced time to market, meeting the most stringent requirements set by the relevant authorities and by the market. With many orders by a number of major customers already logged to date, we’re confident that this will be just the first of hundreds of AW189s to be delivered in the coming years.,” added Romiti.
EASA issued the AW189 type certificate in the last week of September, allowing production to begin and for this first flight to proceed.
Two pre-production helicopters have been devoted to the development of offshore and search and rescue configurations and mission kits. This will allow making basic mission kits immediately certified and available to customers once the aircraft are delivered. Extra training has also been available to customers.
One of these pre-production helicopters was on the AgustaWestland exhibition stand at Helitech 2013 held in London last month. A second AW189 final assembly line is being established at the Yeovil facility in the UK, which will initially build the AW189 helicopters that will be used for the UK’s new Search and Rescue service.