Leonardo Helicopters has taken the wraps off the latest addition to its Agusta-branded family of VIP rotorcraft, unveiling at EBACE today the AW09 light-single in a baseline five-passenger layout.

“We have added the personal touch in terms of comfort that the Agutsa name brings into helicopters,” says head of VIP and corporate segment marketing Manuela Barbarossa, highlighting the AW09’s “very special interior”.

AW09 Agusta unveiling-c-Leonardo Helicopters

Source: Leonardo Helicopters

Airframer displayed the light-single helicopter in a five-passenger layout

Currently offered in a baseline VIP configuration with four seats in the passenger cabin and another in the cockpit, the airframer is also working on additional layouts, all the way up to an eight-passenger cabin. Four different interior themes have also been developed.

Originally designed as a utility workhorse, the AW09 has evolved since its acquisition by Leonardo Helicopters in 2020.

Two prototypes are currently in flight-testing – pre-serial (PS) aircraft 4 and 5, the latter having made its maiden sortie in late February.

Some 100 flights have been performed with PS4 and around 30 on PS5, says the progamme’s chief test pilot Russ Grant.

“We are really entering the certification phase now,” he adds. Pilots from the European regulator have already performed familiarisation flights on the AW09, including on the now-retired PT3 prototype.

That aircraft accumulated around 390 flights before its retirement in September 2022.

Extensive changes were made between PT3 and PS4/5 as Leonardo Helicopters worked to update a design that had originated several years earlier when the company was called Marenco Swisshelicopter, later evolving into Kopter.

Modifications include new rotor controls – moving from an internal to an external system – a completely redesigned ducted tail rotor, improved rear fuselage cowling, updated flightdeck and a new engine, with the Honeywell HTS900 dropped in favour of the Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2K.

Leonardo Helicopters foresees service entry for the AW09 in 2025 with the Agusta version available that year.