Leonardo AW09 Makes First Flight with Safran Power

Leonardo’s Safran-powered AW09 PS4 prototype made its first flight on Thursday. The 20-minute flight was conducted at Leonardo’s Mollis, Switzerland facility. According to the company, the flight “completed all set objectives” including hovers at low altitude, spot turns, and straight and sideways flights at speeds up to 20 knots, as well as several landings and takeoffs. Upcoming tests will expand the helicopter’s flight envelope.

Earlier this year, Leonardo said it replaced the AW09’s Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft with the 1,000-shp Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2K. At Heli-Expo earlier this month, Leonardo managing director Gian Piero Cutillo said the engine switch would delay certification by no more than one year. Further, Leonardo said it received “preliminary” orders for 50 AW09s to date and predicted the order book could reach 200 by the time serial production starts in mid-2024.

Recently announced AW09 customers include Aero Service Representação in Brazil; Synerjet Latina SA in Colombia, Peru, and Chile; Helitech Asia in South East Asia; Safomar in South Africa; Diskopsa in Panama and Guatemala; and Heliflite in Oceania.

Leonardo also recently signed an agreement with U.S.-based Metro Aviation to develop air ambulance interiors for the AW09 and support its introduction into the U.S. market. Leonardo is positioning the AW09 to compete with light twins from other manufacturers in the air ambulance space. Courtesy of AIN.

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