Paul Derby

The single-engined A119 Koala helicopter will be certificated by the Italian aviation authorities next month, Agusta said at the show yesterday.

The Italian manufacturer expects US Federal Aviation Administration certification a month later.

Certification of the Koala had been delayed while Agusta ploughed its efforts into burgeoning sales opportunities for the A109 Power. That aircraft has more than 130 confirmed orders.

Agusta made recent improvements to the A119, including expanding the flight envelope and increasing the cruise speed by 10kt (18km/h); now it plans an aggressive marketing campaign.

"We will keep the first two helicopters as demonstrators," says Leonardo Monti, vice-president of commercial sales.

"One will be based in Europe, the other in the USA. In the meantime, we'll be starting delivery of the first units to customers."

Agusta has an order book for the seven-seater A119 that includes single-unit deals with customers in Australia, Brazil and Venezuela. Two are for the corporate market.

Meanwhile, sales of the A109 twin continue to grow steadily. A 40-unit order from the South African Air Force for a military variant of the A109 will begin deliveries in 2001.

A rapidly emerging EMS market for the aircraft has seen sales in that sector reach 24 units in six countries during the last year.

"We only entered the EMS market 12 months ago, so we have to be pleased with the A109's achievements," says Monti.

Source: Flight Daily News