EBACE: AgustaWestland completes first flight of AW169

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AgustaWestland has completed the first flight of the AW169 light intermediate helicopter, as the programme continues on schedule to achieve certification in 2014.

The AW169 prototype, flown by AgustaWestland chief test pilot Giuseppe Lo Coco and test pilot Giuseppe Afruni, performed "as expected". The flight crew, which also included engineers Massimo Longo and Stefano Rogoni, assessed general handling and basic systems, AgustaWestland says.

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The Italian helicopter maker launched the 4.5t AW169 in July 2010 at the UK's Farnborough International air show to fill a gap beneath the 6t AW139 and the 10t AW189.

Two more aircraft will join the flight test programme later this year, with a fourth prototype arriving in 2013.

AgustaWestland has logged orders for more than 50 AW169s so far.

A key feature of the new helicopter is a turbine engine with a mode to operate also as an auxiliary power unit, removing the requirement to buy the latter device.