The AgustaWestland model AW139 is a modern medium-lift, multi-purpose/multi-role rotary-wing product offered for both military and civilian service by the Italian-based concern. The product was originally born through a joint Italian-American venture as AgustaWestland and Bell joined to form the Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company and offer the "AB139" as a replacement for Bell's venerable - though aging - family of UH-1 "Huey" related transports. When Bell pulled from the program, the product was redesignated as the AW139 and went on to achieve considerable market success with over 700 units sold into 2013. First flight of a prototype was on February 3rd, 2001 and the AW139 was officially introduced in the AgustaWestland product line in 2003.
With its military-/civilian-minded design approach, the AW139 has proven useful in a variety of roles - having been configured for Search and Rescue (SAR), VIP transport, general passenger transport, offshore rig personnel transport, border patrolling, maritime support, police, firefighting and coast guard duties. Military operators include Cyprus, Egypt, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Nigeria, Panama, Qatar, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Civilian operators include Australia, Canada, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United States.
The AB139/AW139 program received its start in 1997 and this evolved into the joint partnership with Bell the following year. The initiative also produced the developmental BA609, a tilt-rotor, civilian-minded passenger transport concept.
Outwardly, the AW139 is a decidedly AgustaWestland design with its low-set nose assembly, large window panes and high-mounted tail stem. Two engines are housed in compartments fitted above the passenger cabin with the two-person cockpit conventionally at the front. Sliding doors allow for passengers to embark/disembark as needed while hinged automobile-style doors manage entry/exit for the pilots. The main rotor is sat upon a low mast and consists of a five-bladed composite design. The tail rotor is of a four-bladed design and faces starboard. The undercarriage is wholly-retractable and includes pair of single-wheeled main legs along with a two-wheeled nose leg.
Internally, the pilot positions feature dual controls and the instrument panel is dominated by four large, full-colored customizable information screens split by a fifth management screen at center. The seats are themselves divided by a center console containing additional controls. Vision out of the cockpit is excellent due to the largely windowed natured of the AW139's design. The passenger cabin can be arranged to seat up to 15 people while the internal arrangement can be set up to accept medical litters, rescue hoist equipment o r other mission-related systems depending on customer requirements.
The AW139 is powered by 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C turboshaft engines developing 1,530 horsepower each while driving the five-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor. Maximum listed speed is 193 miles per hour with a range out to 570 miles. The helicopter supports a service ceiling up to 20,000 feet and features a rate-of-climb of 2,140 feet per minute.
The AW139 has since been offered in a few major notable variants beginning with the original AB139 model of which 54 units were manufactured under the joint AgustaWestlant/Bell label. Following Bell's departure from the 55th airframe onwards, the product fell under the revised designation of "AW139". A subvariant of this mark became a new "long nose" form featuring a lengthened nose assembly to house additional avionics equipment. The AW139, in its fully-militarized form, then became the "AW138M" and this model was adopted by the Italian Air Force as the SAR-minded HH-139A. VIP marks are designated as VH-139A. Further production of AW139s will now stem from the joint Italian-Russian venture out of Tomilino in Russia (under license).
The successful AW139 has gone on to influence two other notable AgustaWestland products - the AW149 and AW189. The AW149 is marketed as a medium-lift helicopter for military customers (no customers as of October 2013) and the AW189 is a similar medium-lift class system though intended for the civilian passenger market (in development as of October 2013). AgustaWestland is also working on the smaller AW169 passenger model and supports it definitive military attack platform - the A129 "Mangusta" for the Italian Army.
Qatar fields a fleet of 21 AW139s through its Emiri Air Force branch making it one of the largest foreign operators of the type.
November 2017 - Abu Dhabi Aviation has signed a deal with Leonardo to continue support of its various SAR and medical service helicopters.
September 2019 - Leonardo has delivered its 1,000th production example of the AW139 medium twin helicopter, this to the Italian Guardia di Finanza police force.
September 2020 - Leonardo will be marketing its AW139 helicopter towards a standing Polish requirement seeking to replace an aging fleet of W-3 Sokol utility types. The company currently works with Poland's PZL-Swidnik on other aviation-related projects.
December 2020 - Leonardo has delivered the first HH-139B helicopter to the Italian Air Force. The initial unit will make up a total of 17 for the service.
January 2021 - The nation of Colombia has taken on the AW139 for the Presidential/VIP transport role, announced on January 11th, 2021. Deliveries are set to begin in the early-to-middle part of 2021.
January 2022 - The Malaysian Air Force has received the first two of four AW139 helicopters from Leonardo.
Australia; Azerbaijan; Bulgaria; Canada; Colombia; Cyprus; Egypt; Estonia; Ireland; Italy; Lebanon; Malaysia; Malta; Netherlands; Nigeria; Portugal; Qatar; Spain; Thailand; Trinidad and Tobago; United Arab Emirates; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
45.2 ft (13.77 m)
45.3 ft (13.80 m)
12.2 ft (3.72 m)
7,981 lb (3,620 kg)
14,110 lb (6,400 kg)
+6,129 lb (+2,780 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Leonardo AW139 production variant)
2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C turboshaft engines developing 1,530 horsepower each driving four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor (facing starboard side).
Typically none. Militarized forms optionally fitted with 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) for suppression.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
AB139 - Initial Production Model; 54 examples produced.
AW139 - Base Series Designation beginning at aircraft 55 and onwards.
AW139 (Long Nose) - Lengthened fuselage variant for US- or Italian-based avionics.
AW139M - Militarized Armed Variant.
HH-139A - Search & Rescue Variant based on AW139M model for Italian Air Force.
HH-139B - Italian Air Force variant of 2020.
VH-139A - VIP variant for Italian Air Force; 2 examples converted from AW139 models.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Image from AgustaWestland marketing material; All Rights Reserved.
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