AW189 Progress

AW189 Progress

Bristow expect to commence revenue flying in Norwich with the AgustaWestland  AW189 during July 2014 according to Bristow VP Operations and Managing Director of Bristow Helicopters Limited, Mike Imlach, quoted by Aviation Week & Space Technology.

UPDATE: Later on the 17 July 2014, Bristow issued the following press statement:

Bristow announced today that it has been certified [sic] to fly the much anticipated new generation AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter.

The company is due to commence flights with its first two new AW189 aircraft from its base at Norwich shortly, servicing the Southern North Sea. Bristow has a further four of the aircraft on order for oil and gas operations.

In the press release, Mike Imlach, says:

We’re excited to be the launch customer for what is a superb aircraft and an important addition to our fleet. Bristow has worked closely with AgustaWestland throughout the aircraft’s development and the result is an aircraft of the highest technical specification with state of the art safety technology which will enable us to offer our clients the best possible capabilities. We look forward to commencing operations with the aircraft in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: On 22 July 2014 Bristow issued a press release:

The first commercial flight of the much-anticipated new generation AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter took place on July 21, 2014, as Bristow flew eight passengers out to the Cygnus field in the Southern North Sea (SNS).

The aircraft is the first of two AW189s to be stationed at Bristow’s Norwich base and is dedicated to GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd for transport between Norwich and the operator’s Cygnus field 120 nautical miles away. The new aircraft is expected to complete one return flight each weekday with the potential to increase the service to three daily flights as the Cygnus field develops through the drilling, hook-up and commissioning, and later operational phases. Cygnus is the largest gas discovery in the SNS in the last 25 years. First gas is expected in late 2015.

AW189 G-OENA (Credit: Bristow)

According to AW&ST, the Bristow also expects to take delivery of two SAR configured AW189s, the first of 11 oderered, to commence initial SAR training in September/October 2014.  The SAR aircraft are being assembled at the AW plant in Yeovil.

At Farnbough International Air Show, AW held a handover ceremony for the first AW189 helicopter to its Asia-Pacific launch customer Weststar Aviation Services

Weststar AW189 on show at Farnborough (Credit: Andy Evans)

Weststar AW189 on show at Farnborough (Credit: Andy Evans)

Weststar is the first operator to choose to benefit from the commonality in design across the family of helicopters of 6.5t AW139, with a fleet of 34 in-service or on order, the 4.5t AW169, with 2 on order, and the 8.3t AW189, with four ordered in February 2014.  The company started operating the AW139 in late 2010, and has recently surpassed 50,000 hours with the type.  According to Flight International: “To cater for the [oil and gas] industry’s burgeoning operational needs, we aim to expand our fleet to 100 helicopters in the next five years,” sais Weststar chief executive General Tan Sri Muhammad Ismail Jamaluddin.

Weststar started its first operation outside of Malaysia, in Mauritania in 2013 for Tullow Oil with two AW139s.  The company now also operates in Morroco and Thailand.  However, the company has put a planned expansion into Iraq on hold.  The company’s oil & gas clients include Petronas Carigali, ExxonMobil, Carigali Hess, CPOC, Talisman, Petrofac, Newfield, TOTAL, KPOC, Lundin, WesternGeco, Hess, Shell, Tullow Oil, Mubadala Petroleum, CGG Veritas, ConocoPhillips, INPEX Offshore and PTTEP.

In total, more than 130 AW189s are on order or option.  Local press reports allege that the AW189 is a contender for a relaunched Scilly Isles helicopter service.

The military version, the 8.5t AW149 also achieved a major milestone as Italy’s Armaereo, the Directorate of Air Armaments, completed military type certification of the AW149.  In aircraft completed certification trials with the Reparto Sperimentale di Volo (RSV), the Italian Official Test Center based at Pratica di Mare Airbase, near Rome. Qualification testing will follow shortly.  

AW is pitching the AW149, to be assembled by PZL-Świdnik, to Poland in a competition for 70 helicopters against the  Airbus Helicopters EC725 and the Sikorsky S-70. A decision on that procurement is expected later this year.

For more background on the AW189 see Aerossurance’s popular article: The Rise of the ‘Super Mediums’: EC175 & AW189

UPDATE: On 30 July 2014 Helihub reported that Gulf Helicopters of Qatar are flying AW189s A7-GAA and A7-GAB in Doha, presumably doing crew work up training.

A7-GAA in Qatar (Credit: Helihub)

Initial icing trials were conducted on prototype P2 with the US Army CH-47 Chinook Helicopter Icing Spray System (HISS) tanker early in 2014 from Duluth, Minnesota.  A further HISS trial is planned for this winter, to be followed by natural icing trials in the US Great Lakes area.

The Flight International flight test of the AW189 can be found here (registration required).

UPDATE: On 20 November 2014 Flight International reported on potential contingency plans if the SAR AW189 are late due to SAR certification reasons.

UPDATE: On 23 December 2014 AW announced the SAR variant was now certified.

SAR AW189 (Credit: AW)

SAR AW189 (Credit: AW)

UPDATE: At HeliExpo 2015 AW announced it had signed a contract with AAR Airlift Group who have been contracted to provide two AW189s to perform SAR duties in the Falkland Islands for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) through the SPMAP (Special Projects Multiple Aircraft Platform) Project Team.  The aircraft are to be operated by British International.

UPDATE: We discuss the impressive MGB loss of lubrication capability of the AW189 Finmeccanica Strives For Greater Gearbox Loss of Lube Capability

UPDATE: The Falklands SAR operation commenced 1 April 2016.

UPDATE: Certification of the full icing protection system (FIPS) was achieved in July 2016.

Bristow has so far taken delivery of three SAR-roled AW189s, and according to its most recent financial filings it anticipates receiving an additional four aircraft this year – two each in June and September.

However, the remaining deliveries, each in batches of two, are scheduled for September 2017 and March 2018. The last base to operate the AW189 – Lee-on-Solent in Hampshire – is due to go live on 1 April 2017.

UPDATE: Bel Air announced on 15 September 2016 that they have now accumulated 5000 flight hours and 6600 safe landings on their two AW189 helicopters.  Bel Air operate the fleet leader.

UPDATE: On 20 September 2016 Leonardo briefed that 25 aircraft were in service.


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