Leonardo Helicopters is waiting for clarity on regulatory reform efforts before launching a secretive light-twin helicopter called the AW209, says managing director Daniele Romiti.
The existence of the project emerged last May when Leonardo group chief executive Mauro Moretti testified to an Italian parliamentary committee, but few details or timeline for the proposed AW209 have since been released.
“The 209 is not at present a dimension on which we are working,” says Romiti, speaking to journalists at the Heli-Expo convention on 6 March. “We think it is quite premature.”
The project is on hold while regulators in Europe and the USA consider major changes to the certification requirements for light civil helicopters.
The so-called Part 27 rewrite effort by the US Federal Aviation Administration, for instance, is aimed at replacing prescriptive regulations with performance-based criteria. It would be modeled on a similar rewrite of Part 23 for light, fixed-wing aircraft.
As a light-twin, the proposed AW209 is in a size category at the upper limit of the current Part 27 standard, and it remains unclear how such aircraft would be classified under performance-based rules.
Leonardo says the AW209, if launched, would be used at least initially to augment the Trekker, a skid-equipped version of its 3t-class AgustaWestland AW109 light twin that achieved first flight a year ago.