Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Agusta has pushed back certification of its A119 Koala single-turbine helicopter to the fourth quarter of this year. The Italian company cites two reasons - plans to enhance the aircraft's performance in response to customer demands, and the need to concentrate on satisfying high demand for its A109 Power stablemate. The A119 was originally scheduled for approval this month.

"We are having to transfer staff from the Koala flight test programme to concentrate on producing the Power because it is so popular," says Agusta. The twin-engined A109, which Agusta claims is "the fastest helicopter of its class in the world", has attracted more than 60 orders so far and is being targeted at the emergency medical services market.

The configuration of the seven-seat, lightweight A119 Koala is now under review following feedback from customers. "We are keen to make improvements to the aircraft without increasing the $1.7 million price tag for the basic model," says the Cascina Costa-based manufacturer. To date, the A119 has amassed about 300h of flight time.

The first prototype was powered by a Turboméca Arriel 1 turboshaft, but following design changes to the aircraft, the engine was replaced by the more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-37 turboshaft, which is now installed on the two flight-test prototypes and subsequent production models.

The helicopter offers a maximum cruise speed of 140kt (260km/h), a service ceiling of 17,900ft (5,460m) and a range of more than 650km (350nm), says Agusta. "We are in the process of enlarging the total flight envelope and hope to increase the cruise speed by 10kt," adds the company.

First deliveries of the A119 are scheduled for 1999.

Source: Flight International