Leonardo (AgustaWestland) AW109 Multirole Military / Utility Helicopter
The AgustaWestland AW109 helicopter has gone on to see worldwide use by in both military and civilian roles.
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The British-Italian helicopter concern of AgustaWestland developed their AW109 model of 1971 as a commercial-level passenger-minded transport. Initial work began in the latter part of the 1960s under the guise that the new product be centered around a single turboshaft engine in an effort to keep developmental, and ultimately procurement, costs down. All other aspects of the helicopter would remain highly conventional with a lightweight classification. By 1970 the design had evolved to become a twin turboshaft-powered mount and assigned the company designation of AW109 (AgustaWestland Model 109). First flight of the type was recorded on August 4th, 1971 to which a years-long period of testing ensued before the aircraft was brought to market in 1976. The series maintains an active presence all over the world today (2013) and is featured in many military forces as well.
The AW109's design was that of a sleek and aerodynamically-refined aircraft featuring a well-sloped and pointed nose assembly. The cockpit was set well ahead in the design with seating for two pilots behind a two-piece forward windshield for excellent visibility out of the cockpit. Entry and exit from the cockpit was through hinged automobile-style doors fitted to either side of the cockpit. Aft of the cockpit was the passenger cabin with variable seating or medical litter options. Search and Rescue types were outfitted with specialized equipment for their given role and armed versions showcased door-mounted machine guns. Entry and exit to the passenger cabin was via rectangular sliding doors to either side of the cabin, these doors sliding rearwards against the helicopter's body. The powerplant was fitted above the cabin roof in the usual way and powered a four-bladed main rotor atop a short mast as well as a two-bladed tail rotor at the rear (the tail rotor facing portside). The empennage consisted of a tapered assembly which housed the tail rotor shaft within. The tail unit was slightly raised from the fuselage underside and capped at its aft end by a large dorsal and smaller ventral vertical tail fin. Horizontal stabilizers were set along the tail stem near the rudder. The undercarriage consisted of two single-wheeled main legs and a single-wheeled nose leg, all were retractable into the floor of the A109 (on most production versions).
The AW109 first appeared in the aptly-designated A109A production model fitted with 2 x Allison Model 250-C20 American turboshaft engines. The A109A EOA was a specially developed militarized version for service with the Italian Army while the A091B proved another militarized model that fell to naught. The A109A was modernized through the A109A Mk II initiative and this begat a MEDEVAC version as the A109A Mk II MAX. The A109C grew into a commercial passenger model sporting 2 x Allison Model 250-C20R-1 turboshaft engines with seating for eight and was followed by a MEDEVAC as the A198C MAX.