Leonardo’s TH-119 wins IFR certification


Leonardo has obtained FAA Instrument-Flight Rule (IFR) certification for the TH-119 military training helicopter. According to the manufacturer, this is the first single engine helicopter in decades to earn the certification.

The TH-119 is a purpose-built military training aircraft based off the Leonardo AW119 platform. It is being built to replace the Navy’s aging Bell TH-57 fleet.

US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) released a request for proposals (RFP) for a new TH-XX model in October last year. Bell and Airbus Helicopters are the other competitors for the bid. The 407GXi and Airbus H135 were the other helicopter models submitted for flight testing but the Leonardo TH-119 is the first to have achieved IFR certification.

If the TH-119 is selected by the Navy, it will secure Leonardo a backlog order of 130 helicopters, which will be built at Leonardo’s existing FAA Part 21 production facility in Philadelphia.

The aircraft is designed with input from former US Naval aviators and former Navy instructor pilots and features a Pratt & Whitney PT6B engine. It also features the all-glass Genesys Aerosystems cockpit which is already outfitted on the AW109 Trekker.

The AW119 is in service in 40 countries and has selected for military, government and parapublic operators – including the New York City Department for Environmental Protection and the Portuguese Air Force.

This is the first military design competition Leonardo has entered since it dropped the legal battle against the US Army in February last year. The manufacturer filed a lawsuit in 2016 claiming that Army’s choice of the Eurocopter (now Airbus) UH-72 Lakota as the sole institutional training model violated the Competition in Contracting Act.