Italy-based Leonardo Helicopters is marking the 50th anniversary of its A109 light twin-engine multirole helicopter. Then known as Agusta, the company flew the A109 prototype for the first time on Aug. 4, 1971. The model received its RAI (Registro Aeronautico Italiano/Italian Aeronautical Registry) and FAA certifications in 1975 and entered service the following year.
“Thanks to the A109, the company switched from the production of licensed products to its own helicopters, thus entering the market among the main helicopter OEMs in the world,” Leonardo said. “The FAA certification allowed access to the American market, a very important milestone, further strengthening the company’s position in the world of OEM leaders of rotary-wing aircraft.”
Leonardo subsequently developed versions designed specifically for missions including ambulance services, police duties, mountain rescue and surveillance. The most recent addition, the eight-seat AW109 Trekker, is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207C engines and has a top cruise speed of 152 knots, 450-NM range and maximum gross takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds. According to Leonardo, more than 1,600 A109 family helicopters have been sold since its introduction. Courtesy of AVweb.