AgustaWestland has officially launched the AW169, a new 4.5t class twin helicopter meant to challenge Eurocopter's Dauphin and EC145 lines.
While the company has not yet put a price tag on the 10-passenger multi-role design, AgustaWestland chief executive Giuseppe Orsi during the unveiling ceremony here on Monday said the company expects "at least" 1,000 sales over the next 20 years. The company first discussed the helicopter at Farnborough in 2008, referring to the design as the XX9.
Placed between the AW109 and the AW139 twins when it enters service in 2015, the AW169 will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210 turboshaft engines, but little else has been revealed about suppliers.
Officials did say however that AgustaWestland will develop the avionics system using three Rockwell Collins display in the cockpit. The aircraft, certificated to Part 29 commercial aircraft standards, will also have dual flight management systems and be certificated for single-pilot instrument flight rules flight in day or night conditions.
Orsi said the company will enter a "full dialogue" with customers in the parapublic, emergency medical, offshore and corporate sectors to better define the offerings, an effort he hopes to have completed for the annual Heli-Expo conference in February.
While final assembly locations were not revealed, AgustaWestland managing director Graham Cole said the UK will provide a key role in the design, construction and maintenance of the helicopter.
The company's Yeovil location, which specialises in transmission and blade design, will also manufacture those and possibly other components.
"If the forecast is correct, there is a production prospect for the UK for the first time," says Cole.