Graham Warwick/ANAHEIM

The Bell/Agusta Aerospace AB139 medium twin-turbine helicopter has begun flight testing at AgustaWestland's Cascina Costa plant in Italy - just 19 months after it was launched at the 1999 Paris air show. Certification and first delivery are due next year.


Announcing the 3 February first flight at the Helicopter Association International's Heli-Expo show in Anaheim, California, last week, the joint venture revealed an order for fourAB139s from Hawker Pacific, taking orders to 22 from 11 customers. Agusta, which finalised its merger with Westland last week, is leading development of the 12/15-passenger AB139, while Bell leads work on the BA609 six/nine-passenger tiltrotor, due to fly late this year.

AgustaWestland has also teamed with Eurocopter for studies of a "second-generation" commercial tiltrotor, based on its Erica tiltrotor/tiltwing hybrid. It will match European Commission funding of €40 million ($37 million) for a feasibility study.

The Anglo/Italian company is meanwhile stepping up production of its A109 Power light twin, shortlisted alongside Eurocopter's EC135 for Sweden's 25-aircraft HKP15 military programme.

Source: Flight International