|Two civilian AW109 helicopters at Rand Airport Air Show 2011|
|First flight||4 August 1971|
|Status||Active service/In production|
|Primary users||Italian Army
Belgium Air Force
REGA (Swiss Air Rescue)
Royal New Zealand Air Force
US$ 6.3 million
The AgustaWestland AW109 is a lightweight, twin-engine, eight-seat multi-purpose helicopter built by the Anglo-Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland. Developed as the Agusta A109, the rotorcraft originally entered service in 1976 and has since been used in various roles, including light transport, medevac, search-and-rescue, and military roles. The AW109 has been in continuous production for 40 years. The AgustaWestland AW119 is a derivative of the AW109, the main difference being that it is powered only by a single engine instead.
Design and development
In the late 1960s, Agusta designed the A109 as a single-engine commercial helicopter. It was soon realised that a twin-engine design was needed and it was re-designed in 1969 with two Allison 250-C14 turboshaft engines. A projected military version (the A109B) was considered early on but Agusta initially chose not to pursue development, instead concentrating on the eight-seat A109C version. The first of three prototypes made its maiden flight on 4 August 1971. The flight testing phase of development was prolonged, leading to the first production aircraft being completed almost four years later in April 1975. The delivery of production A109s started in early 1976.
Once released, the aircraft shortly became a commercial success, being often used for roles other than as a light transport; these included the air ambulance and search-and-rescue roles. In 1975, Agusta returned again to the possibility of a military version, thus trials were carried out between 1976 and 1977 using a total of five A109As fitted with Hughes Aircraft TOW missiles. Two military versions emerged from this program, one was intended for light attack/close support missions and the other for shipboard operations.
The Agusta A109 was renamed the AW109 following the July 2000 merger of Finmeccanica S.p.A. and GKN plc's respective helicopter subsidiaries Agusta and Westland Helicopters to form AgustaWestland. For numerous years, fuselages for the AW109 have been manufactured by PZL-Świdnik, which later became a subsidiary company of AgustaWestland in 2010. In June 2006, the 500th fuselage was delivered by PZL-Świdnik, marking 10 years of co-operation on the AW109 between the two companies.
In 1982 Argentinian Army deployed three A109As to the Falklands Islands. They operated with the Argentinian Helicopter Fleet (9 UH-1H, 2 CH-47C and 2 pumas) in reconnaissance and liaison roles. One of the helicopters was destroyed on the ground by a British Harrier attack. The two others were captured and sent to Europe in HMS Fearless. The British Army Air Corps decided to use those helicopters in Domestic Operations (this is, 8 AAC flight used them to support SAS regiment deployments in the UK) and was so satisfied that bought two additional A109s that were retired in 2009.
A sale of the Agusta A109 to the Belgian armed forces in 1988 later gave rise to a bribery scandal; it was alleged that Agusta had given the Belgian Socialist Party over 50 million Belgian francs to secure the sale. This scandal led to the resignation and later conviction of NATO Secretary General Willy Claes.
In August 2008, Scott Kasprowicz and Steve Sheik broke the round-the-world speed record using a factory-standard AgustaWestland Grand, with a time of 11 days, 7 hours and 2 minutes. The A109S Grand is also the fastest helicopter from New York to Los Angeles.
In July 2013, the South African Air Force reported that 18 AW109s had effectively been grounded due to lack of funding, only occasionally being activated but not conducting flights. The SAAF cited a funding cutback for helicopter operations as the grounding's reason, in 2013, only 71 flight hours were allocated to the whole AW109 fleet. The type may be reduced to flying VIPs rather than being operationally capable; South Africa is also considering selling a number of AW109s, and may cease helicopter operations.
- The first production model, powered by two Allison Model 250-C20 turboshaft engines. It made its first flight on 4 August 1971. Initially, the A109 was marketed under the name of "Hirundo" (Latin for the swallow), but this was dropped within a few years.
- A109A EOA
- Military version for the Italian Army.
- A109A Mk.II
- Upgraded civilian version of the A109A.
- A109A Mk.II MAX
- Aeromedical evacuation version based on A109A Mk.II with extra wide cabin and access doors hinged top and bottom, rather than to one side.
- Unbuilt military version.
- Eight-seat civil version, powered by two Allison Model 250-C20R-1 turboshaft engines.
- A109C MAX
- Aeromedical evacuation version based on A109C with extra-wide cabin and access doors hinged top and bottom, rather than to one side
- One prototype only
- A109E Power
- Upgraded civilian version, initially powered by two Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 engines. Later the manufacturer introduced an option for two Pratt & Whitney PW206C engines to be used – both versions remain known as the A109E. Marketed as the AW109E and Power.
- A109E Power Elite
- stretched cabin version of A109E Power. This has a glass cockpit with two complete sets of pilot instruments and navigation systems, including a three-axis autopilot, an auto-coupled Instrument Landing System and GPS. There is also a Moving Map Display, weather radar and a Traffic Alerting System.
- Military LUH "Light Utility Helicopter" variant based on the A109E Power. Operators include South African Air Force, Swedish Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, Nigerian Air Force, as well as Algeria and Malaysia.
- Eight A109E Power aircraft were used by the United States Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Jacksonville (HITRON Jacksonville) as short-range armed interdiction helicopters from 2000 until 2008, when they were replaced with MH-65C Dolphins. Agusta designated these armed interdiction aircraft as "Mako" until the U.S. Coast Guard officially named it the MH-68A Stingray in 2003. The HITRON configuration included a rescue hoist, emergency floats, FLIR, Spectrolab NightSun search light, a 7.62 mm M240D machine gun and a Barrett M107 semi-automatic .50 caliber sniper rifle with laser sight.
- Military version.
- High-altitude and high-temperature operations with fixed wheels rather than the retractable wheels of most A109 variants. Typically used by police, search and rescue, and air ambulance operators.
- Military version.
- A109 km
- Military version for high altitude and high temperature operations.
- Naval version.
- Standard military version.
- Version for Guardia di Finanza, the Italian Finance Guard.
- Version created for the Belgian Army. Based on the A109C with fixed landing gear.
- A109S Grand
- Marketed as the AW109 Grand, has a lengthened cabin-upgraded civilian version with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207 engines and lengthened main rotor blades with different tip design from the Power version.
- AW109 Grand New
- single IFR, TAWS and EVS, especially for EMS.
- AW109 Trekker
- A variant of the GrandNew with fixed landing skids unveiled in 2014 initially for production in the United States factory.
The AW109 is flown by a range of operators including private companies, military services, emergency services and air charter companies.
Military and government operators
- Guardia di Finanza
- Italian Army
- Vigili del Fuoco
- Italian State Police
- Philippine Navy(5 Units Received as of August 17th)
- Philippine Air Force (2 Units Received , Additional 6 Scheduled for Delivery by End of 2015)
Former military operators
- In 1997, Malaysian businessman Yahaya Ahmad, his wife Rohana Othman and Pilot Major (R) Azlizan Abdul Manas were killed in a crash following a mid-air explosion near Kuala Lipis, Pahang.
- In April 2009South African Air Force AW109 crashed into Woodstock Dam in the Drakensberg, due to pilot error, killing all three on board. –
- On 17 August 2011Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau AW109E police helicopter crashed into Miyun reservoir in Miyun County, Beijing of China. Three crewmen were killed and one crewman got severely hurt. –
- On 16 January 2013Vauxhall helicopter crash, an AgustaWestland AW109 on charter to Rotormotion clipped a construction crane attached to the – St George Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, London, before crashing to the ground and bursting into flames, killing the pilot and a person on the ground. The helicopter was completely destroyed and the crane was also seriously damaged.
- On 15 December 2012, a Nigerian Navy AgustaWestland helicopter crashed in Bayelsa State while conveying VIPs to Port Harcourt from Okoroba Village in Bayelsa state, the crash claimed the lives of six people, including Kaduna state Governor Patrick Yakowa. The investigation stated the cause could have either been human error, material failure or a combination of both. Turbomeca were closely examining the engine.
- On 30 March 2013, a South African Air Force AW109 crashed while on an anti-poaching patrol in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. All five SANDF members aboard were killed.
- On 17 July 2014, a Tri-State Careflight AgustaWestland AW109E helicopter (N507CF) crashed in New Mexico with 1 pilot and two crew members on board. There were no survivors. The cause of this crash is pending an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
- On 5 July 2015, an Agusta A109E with Philippine registry number RP-C2726 crashed in Cuenca, Batangas province while flying in heavy rainfall. The incident killed the pilot and passenger Archimedes King, the founder of Victoria Court motel chain in the Philippines. 6 other passengers were injured.
- On 17 July 2015, an Agusta A109K-2 of the Slovak rescue services, Air Transport Europe s.r.o., with the registry number OM-ATB crashed in the "Slovensky Raj" national park near the village of Hrabusice in north Slovakia while responding to rescue a ten year old German boy who suffered a leg injury. The helicopter hit unmarked high voltage power lines in a rocky valley and subsequently crashed into a river, killing four men (pilot, doctor, paramedic and a mountain rescuer).
- A109A at Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovil, England. Former AE-331 of the Argentine Army Aviation, captured in the Falklands War.
Specifications (AW109 Power with PW206C)
- Crew: 1 or 2
- Capacity: 6 or 7 passengers
- Length: 11.448 m (37 ft 7 in) fuselage
- Width: 2.88 m (9 ft 5 in)
- Height: 3.50 m (11 ft 6 in)
- Empty weight: 1,590 kg (3,505 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 2,850 kg (6,283 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206C Turboshaft engine, 418 kW (561 hp) each
- Main rotor diameter: 11.00 m (36 ft 1 in)
- Maximum speed: 311 km/h (193 mph; 168 kn)
- Cruise speed: 285 km/h; 177 mph (154 kn)
- Never exceed speed: 311 km/h; 193 mph (168 kn)
- Ferry range: 932 km (579 mi; 503 nmi)
- Rate of climb: 9.8 m/s (1,930 ft/min)
- Related development
- Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Related lists
- Air International October 1978, pp. 160–161.
- Air International October 1978, p. 161.
- "PZL-Świdnik deliver 500th airframe to AgustaWestland". PZL-Świdnik SA. Archived from the original on 2006-09-07.
- "History of Rotorcraft World Records, List of records established by the 'A109S Grand'". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Archived from the original on 2010-07-29.
- "AgustaWestland news archive, August 2008". Agustawestland.com. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- "South African airforce in crisis." Timeslive.co.za, 24 July 2013.
- "RAF – Agusta A 109 E". Raf.mod.uk. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- MCH: Project Description, U.S. Coast Guard Short Range Recovery (SRR) Helicopter.
- Crawford, Steve (2003). Twenty-first century military helicopters: today's fighting gunships. St. Paul, MN.: MBI Publishing Company. p. 85. ISBN 0-7603-1504-3.
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- "Slovenia Announce The Procurement Of One A109 Power Helicopter". AgustaWestland. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "SLOVENIAN POLICE HELICOPTER UNIT" (PDF). policija.si. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
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- "Australian Navy retires the A109". shephardmedia.com. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "Italian Air Force Aircraft Types". aeroflight.co.uk.
- años 90&plan=1 "FAP Historia Los Años 90 (1990-1999)". fuerzaaerea.mil.py. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- Barrie Flight International 10–16 September 1997, p. 62.
- "8 Flight Army Air Corps". eliteukforces.info. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "MH-68A Stingray / Agusta A109E". globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
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- "Ejercito de Venezuela Agusta A109 Hirundo". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "Army names chopper dead". Times LIVE. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
- ""北京警用直升机坠落水库牺牲4民警被批准为烈士"(translate: Beijing police helicopter crashed; 4 policemen were approved as martyrs)". Xinhua News Agency. 2011-08-25. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "London helicopter crash: Two die in Vauxhall crane accident". BBC Online. 16 January 2013.
- "President Jonathan, Nigeria Navy Confirm Crash, Offer Details About Helicopter Crash". Sahara Reporters. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "UPDATE ON THE CRASHED NIGERIAN NAVY AGUSTA HELICOPTER NN07". navy.mil.ng.
- "South Africa helicopter crash kills five in Kruger park." BBC News, 31 March 2013.
- "Victims in medical helicopter crash identified". KRQE News 13. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Victoria Court owner, pilot die in helicopter crash in Batangas". GMA News Online. 5 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "TA3 - V Slovenskom raji havaroval záchranársky vrtuľník, nikto neprežil". TA3.com (in Slovak). Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Exhibitions - Reserve Collections - Agusta 109A (AE-331)". Fleet Air Arm Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
- "AW109 Power". AgustaWestland. 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Type Certificate Data Sheet: A109" (PDF). European Aviation Safety Agency. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
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