BAN's World GazetteerItaly
Italy's Guardia di Finanza (GdF) has taken delivery of Leonardo's 1,000th AW139 helicopter. The machine was delivered to GdF during an official celebration at Leonardo's plant in Vergiate, Varese, in Italy, in the presence of institutional representatives, customers, partners and suppliers, as well as the company's top management and employees.
The AW139's first flight dates back to 2001. The helicopter boasts orders of over 1,100 units from more than 280 customers in over 70 countries on all continents. The aircraft has demonstrated strong reliability and operational capabilities with almost 2.5 million flight hours recorded since the first delivery took place at the beginning of 2004. Data of use testifies to the versatility of the model: more than 30 per cent have performed public utility tasks such as SAR and air ambulance, law enforcement, firefighting, disaster relief; over 30 per cent are deployed for offshore transport; around 20 per cent for military tasks; and the rest accounts for VIP, institutional and corporate transport missions.
Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo says: “What we celebrate today is much more than the success of a product or of a company. It is the global affirmation of an asset of our entire country. The AW139 is a striking example of the role that Leonardo plays and intends to continue to have in the world. All our values are reflected in the AW139: continuous innovation, internationalisation, proximity to the market and to the customer, and the enhancement of human resources.”
MD Gian Piero Cutillo adds: “With the AW139 the company has been able to create an extraordinary programme with international roots and with its global success this has allowed us to reach the top of the industry's world helicopter market. Without the self-denial, the preparation and the passion of workers from different generations and nationalities who believed in and worked on its development, and who still follow it in its operational path by constantly confronting the market and customers, all this would not have been possible.”
The AW139 fleet has a global presence: around 30 per cent are in Europe, almost as many are in Asia and Australasia, while 15 per cent operate on the American continent, followed by the Middle East. The international success of the AW139 is so important that to meet market demands the helicopter is produced on different assembly lines both in Italy, in the Vergiate plant, and in the United States in Philadelphia.
The AW139 has been enhanced significantly in recent years, adapting to the changing needs of customers. The MTOW increased from 6.4 to seven tonnes, and almost 1,000 mission kits and equipment have been certified. With advanced protection systems against icing, the AW139 can fly in all weather conditions. This model is said to be the only one in the world capable of continuing to fly for over 60 minutes without oil in the transmission, twice as much as the 30 minutes set by the certification authorities.