Leonardo Helicopters' new Agusta brand was launched in style at this year's Dubai Expo 2020.
At the long-awaited Dubai Expo 2020, which runs from October 2021 to March 2022, Italy-headquartered Leonardo Helicopters debuted a new helicopter - the AW609 tiltrotor, part of the Agusta lineage, a shake-up in the VIP and corporate helicopter market.
The Agusta brand was originally launched 50 years ago with Leonardo's popular and iconic A109, which soon "became synonymous with outstanding performance, aerodynamics, advanced technology and high customisation levels," said a spokesperson for the brand, so the AW609 is the latest member of the family.
The AW609 can fly at over 270 knots and to a range of more than 750 nautical miles, which increases to almost 1,100 nautical miles with auxiliary tanks. It can accommodate nine passengers, flies at a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet, and can take off vertically in helicopter mode or from runways with rotors set in a more horizontal position.
The first appearance of the AW609 TiltRotor in the Middle East came with its official presentation at the Dubai Expo, and it was also spotlighted at the Dubai Airshow 2021, marking the global commercial launch of the revolutionary multirole aircraft as it gets closer to its civil certification. AW609 test pilot Gianfranco Cito, one of only 10 pilots approved to fly the tiltrotor, said in an interview that testing will be complete by August 2022. “The type of mission could be civilian use or potentially search and rescue or police-type work," he said. "The key concept is that you can fly high, fast, and vertical.”
The announcement was made at the grand opening of the rotorcraft terminal by Leonardo and Falcon Aviation Services in Dubai, called, 'Casa Agusta'. An AW609 TiltRotor and an AW609 full scale VIP/corporate cabin mock-up are now on static display close to Casa Agusta.
The Casa Agusta design is based on a brand new concept, which combines a helipad, showroom and lounge areas in a single city-based heliport. The terminal concept will support the development of a network of point-to-point connections for both urban transfers and connections between cities, while meeting the growing demands for sustainable and modern vertical lift mobility, as well as greater access to urban areas.
VIP and charter services users and passengers will be provided with levels of service typically available in larger private airport facilities far from downtown and urban areas. Casa Agusta features a modular design using recyclable materials and, if required, the terminal can be transported. Falcon Aviation Services will use the terminal to deliver helicopter transport services. Leonardo has developed an ideal ground base, a modular, sustainable, refined rotorcraft terminal.
Other helicopters in the Agusta family include: AW109 light twin series, both of Trekker and GrandNew, the light Intermediate model AW169, intermediate and best in its class AW139 and AW189 for medium class weight. They are ideally suited to transport missions such as charter and air-taxi and heli-deck operations for yacht and super yacht owners.
With an over 40 percent share in the multiengine VIP helicopter market by deliveries, Leonardo is clearly a leader in this sector. With continuous innovation, it plans to remain so.