The Leonardo AW139 will be the new presidential transport helicopter in the Republic of Colombia. The aircraft, in a VVIP configuration, is expected to be delivered in spring this year and will be operated by the Colombian Air Force.
The supply of this helicopter will make the Colombian Air Force the first military customer of the type in the country and will expand the existing AW139 fleet there. The model has already proven successful for civil transport operations supporting the oil and gas industry, with five units in service used by prime operator Helistar S.A.S. The presidential AW139 will feature, among others, an eight-seat configuration in the largest cabin in its category, the highest safety standards and include a self-defence suite, typically integrated into other helicopters in the head of state/government transport role.
The selection of the AW139 VVIP in Colombia confirms the leading role of Leonardo in the world's VIP multi-engine helicopter market with a 40 per cent share and grows the success of the type across Latin America for a range or roles, including VIP and offshore transport, law enforcement and public services. A successful model in the global military market thanks to its performance in hot and high, payload, versatility, latest technologies and modern serviceability approach often replacing the ageing UH-1 series, the AW139M military variant is also being proposed by Leonardo to respond to the multirole requirements of the air force, army, national police and navy in Colombia. With over 400 civil and military helicopters in service in Latin America today, Leonardo is a major force in the rotorcraft sector across the region.
Leonardo has also announced that the AW169 new generation light intermediate twin engine helicopter is set to enter the Mexican VIP/corporate market, further expanding the success of the type among operators across Latin America and the globe and strengthening the role of Leonardo in the world's multi-engine VIP helicopter segment. A Mexican private operator will introduce an AW169 into service this year, featuring a highly customised configuration combining the highest standards of quality and comfort and leveraging the outstanding cabin space of the model. Popular types like the AW109 light twin series and the AW139 intermediate twin have also proven extremely successful over the years in Latin America and Mexico for various applications, including VIP/corporate transport, and the AW169 is now one more option to meet evolving regional market requirements.
For more than three decades, Leonardo has been a preferred OEM of Mexican customers for VIP/executive transport operations with several AW109 variants sold and in service. The AW169 offers existing light twin operators in Mexico higher payload, more space and greater comfort. At the same time, as the lighter brother of the world class AW139, the AW169 benefits from the AW family commonalities delivering similar capabilities on a smaller and lighter scale with distinguished equipment and systems. The AW109 GrandNew and Trekker models will continue to offer best-in-class capabilities for operators looking for light twins with high performance and customisation levels.
The AW169 is also the first helicopter in its category entering the market with an electric retractable landing gear, which reduces complexity and maintenance requirements. This solution adds to fixed landing gear and skid landing gear as options. A performance increase package is under development to provide even greater capabilities to customers in all conditions, including hot and high, for which the AW169 will have the best in class power-to-weight ratio making the AW169 the perfect fit for operations in Mexico.
Certified in 2015, nearly 240 AW169s have been ordered by customers worldwide to date to carry out a range of mission including VIP/corporate transport, EMS/SAR, law enforcement, firefighting, electronic news gathering, utility, training and military missions.