Leonardo Helicopters appears close to securing long-awaited certification for the full ice protection system (FIPS) on the AgustaWestland AW189 – a vital move that will clear the 8.3t rotorcraft for search and rescue (SAR) operations in the UK.

Operator Bristow Helicopters had been due to introduce the AW189 on its SAR contract with the UK government in April 2015, but postponed its deployment pending FIPS approval. So far it has taken delivery of just three of a planned 11 units.

But speaking at a pre-Farnborough air show briefing on 17 June, Stefano Bortoli, sales and marketing senior vice-president at Leonardo Helicopters, said European Aviation Safety Agency certification of FIPS is imminent.

“We are in the closing steps with EASA,” he says. “We are confident we will achieve it by the Farnborough display [11 July].”

Although the decision to put the SAR variant into service rests with Bristow, “from 1 July the aircraft is capable of entering into operations”, says Bortoli.

Bristow warned in late May that it would have to consider its options if FIPS certification was not achieved by 30 June.

Source: FlightGlobal.com