AgustaWestland appears to be closing in on approval for two increasingly delayed items: type certification for its new AW169 light twin – which was due at end of last year – and for the limited ice protection system (LIPS) on the AW189 super medium.
However, the more comprehensive full ice protection system (FIPS) for the AW189 – which is key to its full deployment in the UK on search and rescue (SAR) missions – will not come until the second half of next year.
Speaking at a 12 July event at its Yeovil, UK manufacturing facility, Daniele Romiti, AgustaWestland chief executive, says European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification for the 4.5t AW169 will come “in a matter of weeks”. Customer demonstration flights using the initial production example had earlier been carried out in June.
Romiti says final meetings with EASA have been held and it is now “about paperwork”. He blames the delay on the complexity of the certification effort, specifically around new-generation equipment.
“As soon as technology enhances capability of the products, so it impacts on certification,” he says.
Romiti offers a similar timeframe for the arrival of the LIPS on the AW189. “It is going to be certificated within weeks,” he says.
The availability of ice protection appears to have been behind the delayed service entry of the SAR variant with Bristow Helicopters in the UK. So far the operator has received three examples of the 8.3t rotorcraft but has yet to deploy them to active SAR bases.
FIPS, however, will not be ready until “mid-next year”. Initial tests of the system were conducted late last year “and there are the last few points we need to confirm next winter”, Romiti says.
“Full operational capability for the helicopter will be delivered from mid-next year.”