HELI-EXPO 2023, Leonardo: the latest helicopters and simulation options | Leonardo

Leonardo will for the first time publicly present a mockup of the AW09, the next generation single engine helicopter in its final configuration with its Safran Helicopter Engines, alongside the Arriel 2K engine mockup, an AW169 in ambulance configuration and an AW139 for VIP/ Corporate transport exhibited in a special area dedicated to the Agusta VIP helicopter brand. Also on display are the latest digital solutions for simulations and services, including the new Virtual and Extended Reality Simulator (VxR) and the Modular Interactive Trainer for Helicopter Operators (MITHOS), both of which are on display in a demo version for testing at the Leonardo booth. In addition, there is a special corner dedicated to customer experience, enhancing the customer’s journey through Leonardo’s digital services.

North America is the world’s largest market for civil and public service helicopters, representing over 30% of the total global fleet (8,000+ helicopters). In North America, Leonardo has a fleet of over 300 civil/parapublic helicopters operated by more than 140 operators Performing a variety of missions including rescue services, public transport, offshore duties, civil utilities and public services. 2022 was an extremely successful year in terms of sales in the commercial and semi-public market in North America; the number of aircraft sold increased by almost 40% compared to the previous year and the value almost tripled compared to the two previous years). Most of the new orders in the past year came from new customers or existing customers who are replacing outdated competitor models with Leonardo products. The AW139 saw an increase in sales, particularly in the offshore and VIP transport markets.

The company also plays an important role in two major U.S. Department of Defense programs. Leonardo is a prime contractor responsible for the production and supply of TH-73A naval aviator trainers for the US Navy. Leonardo was recently awarded the last and final lot of the entire TH-73A helicopter order, 120 in total, while the first students have started their training. Leonardo is also working with prime contractor Boeing on the US Air Force’s MH-139A helicopter based on the AW139 platform. The first four Leonardo and Boeing MH-139s were accepted by the USAF in August 2022, and military testing of these aircraft began soon after.

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The solutions shown

Three years after announcing the acquisition of Kopter at HAI, Leonardo will for the first time publicly display a model of the AW09, the most advanced single-engine helicopter for the commercial market, now in its final configuration. The AW09 offers increased modularity, modern electronic systems, high digitization and the largest cabin and cargo space in its category. Its superior characteristics, including fast cruising speeds and hot-and-high capabilities, are combined with a low noise signature resulting from the newly developed dynamic assembly and ducted tail rotor.

The new Arriel 2K engine model will be on display alongside the AW09 helicopter model. This engine will power the AW09 production configuration and is the latest generation of the Arriel family to be produced by Safran Helicopter Engines. The Arriel 2K version offers new and specific functions as well as advanced support and maintenance solutions, built on new technologies and low operating costs, building on a long-term partnership between Leonardo and Safran. The new engine is already installed on the PS4 prototype.

Dedicated to the EMS market, which is gaining momentum in North America and worldwide, Leonardo presents the ideal solution for US emergency services, the AW169 twin-engine light medium helicopter in emergency medical configuration.

Key features of the AW169 include the largest cabin in its category, which can be fitted with stretchers either lengthwise or horizontally, in a space that allows medical staff to more comfortably work on patients while transporting them to a hospital. The helicopter has a useful feature for rescuers, not available on other light and medium models: the main onboard systems (electromedicine, radio, air conditioning) can be operated on the ground with either of the two engines as an Auxiliary Power Unit (a capability that therefore called APU mode). This guarantees that onboard systems will run even when the rotor is stationary, providing greater safety, reduced environmental impact and greater speed and versatility in responding to emergency calls.

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The AW169 helicopter’s operational capabilities and configuration options have continued to grow with recent EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) certification for Askid landing gear and unique IFR, Single Pilot, Advanced Search and Rescue (SAR) modes. These latest achievements follow additional enhancements such as the introduction of the Phase 8 core avionics software release combined with already available performance enhancement packages.

The Agusta VIP brand, which represents Leonardo’s philosophy and distinctive values ​​in terms of design, technology and services in the executive helicopter market, will be featured in a dedicated area at the Atlanta event alongside an AW139 twin-engine helicopter at the VIP -Area presented / company configuration. The aircraft is a best-seller in its category, with almost 1,300 units on order in less than 20 years and for a wide range of applications around the world. In addition, it is the best passenger transportation solution on the US market in terms of performance, technologies, available cabin space and range.

Other focal points include enhanced digital solutions in simulation services, with demos of the new Virtual and Extended Reality Simulator (VxR) and the Modular Interactive Trainer for Helicopter Operators (MITHOS), both on display at the Leonardo booth.

The VxR is a revolutionary solution based on state-of-the-art virtual reality with a dedicated headset designed and built with helicopter OEM-level data, leveraging superior design and certification capabilities and real flight test data. Based on Leonardo’s previously certified Level-D full flight simulator data and featuring super-short-stroke movement without a view dome, it allows installation with a reduced footprint, transport and reconfiguration between many helicopter models, namely the AW119, AW109 and in the future the AW09.

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Leonardo will also present MITHOS, a fully immersive and interactive simulated operational training environment for rescue and wind farm support tasks for hoist operators. In a special corner dedicated to customer experience, Leonardo will also present some of the latest immersive digital services to enhance the digital experience.

Leonardo in the US helicopter market

Leonardo has worked in Philadelphia since the early 1980’s, originally at a facility set up to oversee the maintenance of the Agusta A109. Over the years, the Philadelphia location has grown into a manufacturing center in its own right and as of this year employs more than 1000 people and has facilities in four states. The Philadelphia facility has assembled more than 650 helicopters over the years, where production of the AW119, AW139 and AW609 models takes place. The location also offers support services to customers throughout North and South America. In 2021, Leonardo opened one of the most advanced training academies in the industry, training pilots and maintenance technicians on the ground, in flight and in a fully virtual environment. The helicopter fleet covered by the general support services coordinated from the American industrial site includes about 1,000 aircraft from a total fleet of 4,500 Leonardo helicopters around the world. Leonardo also has a Blade Repair Center in Broussard, Louisiana, a Customer Support Center in Milton, FL, and a US Government sales office in Alexandria, Virginia.