Sensing the growing market need for an all-modern, cost-effective medium-lift helicopter to serve in the offshore drilling service, the Italian concern of AgustaWestland is developing its impressive AW189 model. Based on the military AW149 product, the AW189 is intended for civil airspace as a passenger transport though it can be outfitted with optional equipment to suit various mission roles - indeed, AgustaWestland is marketing the AW189 series as a multirole type. With its crew of two, the aircraft can haul up to eighteen passengers some 230 miles at speeds exceeding 170 miles per hour. First flight of a prototype occurred on December 21st, 2011 and the product remains in development as of March 2014. The AW189 is already on order with seven countries including India, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The AW189 is powered by 2 x General Electric CT7-2E1 turboshaft engines developing 2,000 horsepower each. The fuselage sports a length of 57.8 feet with a rotor diameter measuring 48 feet and a height of 16.6 feet. Gross weight is listed at 18,300lbs. Its specifications place it as a bridge product between the intermediate-lift AW139 and medium-heavy-lift AW101 models in the AgustaWestland helicopter lineup.
The general appearance of the vehicle is a sleek one, incorporating a shallow nose cone ahead of a glazed cockpit. Vision is generally good out of both cockpit positions and sliding rectangular doors offer access to the passenger cabin. The cockpit and passenger cabin are separated by a solid wall for privacy and passenger comfort is expanded through use of cushioned seating, an in-flight entertainment system and air conditioning. The engines are mounted above the passenger cabin in the usual way and drive a five-bladed main rotor atop a short mast as well as a four-bladed tail rotor facing starboard. The undercarriage is retractable and consists of a traditional three-legged, wheeled arrangement.
The AW189 cockpit brings about use of FLIR (Foward-Looking Infra-Red), Night Vision Goggle (NVG) support, SATellite COMmunications (SATCOM), HF/V/UHF radio, AIS naval transponder, four-axis autopilot, a Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) solution and flight data recorders. There are four large, full-color Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) providing an all-glass approach (fitted in pairs ahead of both cockpit positions). Weather and search radars are also integrated into the design as is a Moving Map Display (MMD).
AgustaWestland is targeting the AW189 to offshore drilling companies where access to platforms requires use of a capable, reliable rotary-wing system. Range is, therefore, an important inherent quality of such a product and auxiliary fuel tanks are optional, added to the fuselage of the AW189 to help increase range. Additionally, the powerplant and airframe were designed with the rigors of over-water service in mind as well as the harsh environments to be encountered that come with such operating territory. For emergencies, the AW189 features an emergency flotation system (forced water landings) and an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) for added piece of mind.
Beyond its offshore potential, the AW189 can also serve law enforcement and coast guard entities due to its inherent qualities. Available equipment includes life rafts, search lights, cargo hooks and fast-roping kits to suit the mission need. Its cabin can also be converted to serve as a MEDEVAC platform for litters and associated staff.