AgustaWestland is pursuing two new sales avenues for its AW101, as it as it looks to bolster the backlog of the largest aircraft in its line-up.
The Anglo-Italian airframer is increasingly pushing the 15t aircraft as a VVIP transport, alongside the more common anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue or troop transport missions.
The type is ideally suited to the role thanks to its large cabin and extensive work to reduce interior noise, says product manager Jim Griffin.
Outstanding orders for VVIP-roled AW101s include helicopters destined for Algeria, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets database. These will join aircraft already in service with Turkmenistan and India – albeit those for the latter nation are embroiled in a corruption scandal.
Meanwhile, AgustaWestland has opened discussions with European regulator EASA over obtaining civil certification for the triple-engined type.
As oilfields move further offshore, it sees a potential requirement for a crew-change helicopter offering longer range than either of the segment’s current stalwarts, the Eurocopter EC225 and Sikorsky S-92.
And, Griffin points out, although it is not marketed as such, the type shares a common cockpit architecture with the three members of AgustaWestland’s civil “helicopter family”, comprising the AW169, AW139 and AW189, with the latter two finding favour with the oil and gas segment.
It previously obtained civil certification for an earlier iteration of the helicopter, but a number of changes over that model – notably to the airframe, engines and avionics – mean that AgustaWestland must re-seek EASA approval.
“We are in discussions with EASA, but because they know the product there’s not a significant risk [to gaining certification],” says Griffin.