First AW169 for Offshore Wind Turbine Support

First AW169 for Offshore Wind Turbine Support

The first Leonardo AW169 for use supporting wind farms, D-HHTJ, has been delivered to Emden based Heli Service International GmbH.  The aircraft, ordered in October 2015 and leased from LCI, will be used to support the giant Siemens Gemini wind energy project.  The aircraft is on a 5 year contract for winching maintenance personnel onto the wind turbines and is equipped with a UTC Goodrich winch.

Managing Directors Oliver Freiland, Eberhard Herr, and Nils Herrmann say:

After an extensive investigation of all relevant helicopter-types available, we are fully confident of having chosen the perfect match for our offshore customer´s demand for high-quality and safe operation, while being economically efficient.

AW are marketing the 4.6t AW169 as the smallest of a ‘family’ of similar designs that “share the same common cockpit concept and design philosophy”, alongside the popular AW139 (now certified at 7t and with over 700 in service) and the 8.6t AW189, certified in 2014.

Leonardo Family: AW169 in the Foreground with AW139 and AW189 (Credit: Dura-Ace)

Heli Service International, established in 1987 already operates fellow family member, the AW139, in the wind turbine Helicopter Hoist Operations (HHO) role:

AW139 HHO: Winching to Wind Turbine Nacelle (Credit: Heli Service International)

AW139 HHO: Winching to Wind Turbine Nacelle (Credit: Heli Service International)

Operation of helicopters near wind farms will be one of the topics discussed at the EHEST Safety Workshop at Helitech in Amsterdam on 13 October 2016: The challenges of helicopter operations near wind turbines

Siemens Gemini Project

The EUR 1.5mn Gemini Project, off the Netherlands, features 150 turbines, with 130m diameter blades, delivering a total of 600MW (enough to power 800,000 homes).

Siemens will be using an 84m, heli deck equipped, Service Operations Vessel (SOV), the Windea la Cour alongside helicopter operations.  Built by Ulstein, based on their SX175 design, it will be operated by BS Offshore.  The vessel can accommodate a crew of 20 and 40 maintenance personnel, and also features a walk-to-work gantry system.  A second will be launched later in the year to support another Siemens wind farm project.

SOV Windea la Cour (Credit Siemens)

The in-field Offshore Transformer Station will be equipped with a helideck and refuelling facilities.

UPDATE 26 September 2016: Airlift AS, an NHV company, has been awarded a contract to three AW169s for transporting Norwegian marine pilots for the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA).  The 6 year contract commences on 1 July 2017, with an option for a two year extension.

AW169 Background 

Launched at Farnborough International 2010, the AW169, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A 1100shp turboshafts, first flew in May 2012, with EASA issuing the Type Certificate in July 2015 (the TCDS is here).

The AW169 features three 10×8 inch Rockwell Collins displays with touchscreen controls.  AW selected Rockwell Collins’ Helisure system in 2013 for a number of their product lines.

AW168 I-ACWG Cockpit (Credit: Andy Evans)

AW168 I-ACWG Cockpit (Credit: Andy Evans)

In the offshore role the aircraft has a D-value of 14.7m, which puts it between the AS365/EC155 and the S-76.  The most likely offshore seating fit is an 8 seat cabin, with a large, accessible push-out window for every 2 passengers.  A more constrained forward facing configuration of 4 + 4 +2 layout is also offered.  The cabin volume is larger than an S-76D (6.5 m3 vs 5.8 m3) with a larger baggage bay too  (1.4 m3 vs 1.1 m3).

AW169 Offshore Cabin Configuration (Credit: AgustaWestland)

AW169 Offshore Cabin Configuration (Credit: Leonardo)

UPDATE 27 December 2019: Leonardo delivered its 100th AW169 to Specialist Aviation Services for Cornwall Air Ambulance at Leonardo’s plant in Vergiate on 12 December 2019.

Aerossurance has previously looked at other members of the Leonardo ‘family’:

UPDATE 27 October 2016: Offshore Renewables Aviation Guidance (ORAG) issued by RenewableUK.

UPDATE 23 May 2018: Pilot Review: Leonardo AW169

Aerossurance has extensive international helicopter operations, airworthiness, safety and air service contract experience, including with a range of special mission projects. 

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