AgustaWestland's AW189 made its maiden flight on 21 December from the airframer's Cascina Costa base in Italy.

The eight-tonne class helicopter - launched at the Paris air show in June - "performed as expected during the flight, which assessed the helicopter's general handling and basic systems", said AgustaWestland.

The first prototype will be used for testing avionic systems and certification of the aircraft's optional offshore equipment. The second prototype is scheduled to join the flight test programme next year, leading to AW189 certification in 2013 and service entry the following year.

AgustaWestland has secured a number of sales for the multirole helicopter, notably from offshore operators including Bristow Helicopters, Bel Air, and Weststar Aviation Services.

AgustaWestland AW189 first flight

 © AgustaWestland

"The AW189 is specially designed for the global oil and gas market to fly longer ranges at the best economics," said AgustaWestland.

"It is an ideal platform for search and rescue and para public missions as well due to its long-range capabilities."

The helicopter is powered by two GE CT7-2E1 turboshaft engines, each producing 2,000shp (2,684kW) and has a Microturbo auxiliary power unit. Cruise speed is projected to be 145-150kt (268-278km/h), with a range that will allow a full load to be delivered to a platform 140nm (259km) from shore and back.

Source: Flight International