Leonardo Banks On New Model Appeal in South America

Leonardo Helicopters characterizes Brazil’s current economic situation as “difficult,” but the company says it remains one of the most important world markets for the company’s products and services. Leonardo’s current commercial and parapublic fleet in Brazil stands at 181 helicopters performing many roles, including executive/corporate transport, law enforcement, public utility and offshore transport. That fleet includes AW119s, AW109s and AW139s, with another 12 Lynx serving in the Navy.

On the military side, the Lynx upgrade program for eight helicopters is ongoing. A recent contract amendment has led to more advanced training for the Brazilian Navy pilots, improvement of the main gearboxes upgrade rate, as well as the start of studies considering a new weapon system for the Lynx MK 21B, its new denomination (AH11B for the Brazilian Navy). The MK21B will feature a glass cockpit, Wildcat-like and new enhanced avionics and electronic warfare (EW) equipment managed by its mission system.

Leonardo is making parapublic inroads as well. The Policia Federal do Brasil operate the AW139, the government of the State of São Paulo operates a GrandNew light twin (AW109SP), delivered in 2015 and currently performing environmental and forest patrols and airborne surveillance, and the State of Rio Grande do Sul is the first South American parapublic operator of the AW119Kx, bringing the total AW119 fleet supporting police and firefighting units to six. In addition to the AW139 used for policing, there are currently 30 AW139s operating in the offshore energy industry in Brazil, and one in the VIP/corporate market. Era (Aeroleo) introduced two AW189s into the Brazilian offshore market this year. The helicopter is being marketed as a lower-cost alternative to the Sikorsky S-92A and Airbus Helicopters H225. With 12 passengers, the 18,960-pound (optional mtow) AW189 has the range to reach and return from energy platforms more than 200 nm offshore. In high-density configuration, the AW189 can transport 18 passengers (with two crew). The manufacturer is offering the AW189 in offshore, private, maritime search-and-rescue and parapublic variants. The AW189 is available with a variety of options and kits and approved for single-pilot IFR. Power comes from a pair of 2,000-shp, Fadec-controlled GE CT72E1 turboshafts. The helicopter has a Rockwell Collins glass-panel avionics suite that is NVG-compatible, a four-axis autopilot and optional rotor ice-protection system.

Civil Market

Leonardo continues to count on Brazil as a promising market for the new AW169 medium twin. The company reports strong interest in the AW169, and points to the number of firm orders received over the past year as certification was finalized. The company claims a 50 percent share in the multi-engine segment, a position it expects worldwide deliveries of the AW169 to reinforce. Of the more than 160 agreements signed for the AW169 to date, including orders and options, more than 20 are from operators in Brazil. In the second half of 2016, corporate operators in Brazil placed firm orders for five AW169s. In early 2017, three AW169s were sold to two different Brazilian customers. The first AW169 also entered into service earlier this year in Brazil and another in Argentina. The AW169 is intended to compete with the Sikorsky S-76D and uses a variant of the same Pratt & Whitney Canada Fadec-controlled PW210-series engines (1,000 shp each) that power the Sikorsky. The AW169 features a Rockwell Collins three-screen glass-panel avionics system that includes dual FMS; a 222- cu-ft flat-floor cabin; a 45-cu-ft baggage hold; and low noise signature. It offers good high/hot performance. The cabin is large enough to accommodate transverse-loaded stretchers or accommodate up to 10 passengers. Leonardo is offering the AW169 in military, search-and-rescue, EMS, offshore and corporate variants.

The company also thinks there will be strong interest within the region in the soon-to-be-certified Trekker light twin. Two prototypes are continuing flight test and a Leonardo spokesman said, “We expect to start deliveries to operators in early 2018. We have agreements for nearly 30 units worldwide, including orders and framework contracts, to date.” The Trekker is a skidded—and cheaper—version of the AW109S Grand and features single-pilot IFR Genesys Aerosystems avionics and a pair of Fadec-equipped, 815-shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207C turboshafts that deliver a maximum speed of 168 knots. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds and will have an endurance of four hours, 20 minutes or 445 nm with a modular, five-cell fuel system. The machine is aimed primarily at the EMS and utility markets.

Leonardo is enhancing its product support for all its products in the region. The company said its customer support facility in Brazil is ready to support the new AW169 as well as its other models and also perform after-market airframe and warranty support. It also noted that Helipark recently received ANAC certification to support AW169s. The company also said it had plans to reinforce its permanent stock of spare parts in the region to sustain the growth of the local fleet.

To support its growing, embedded fleet of AW139s in the region, CAE-Lider has also recently certified an AW139 CAE 3000 series full-flight simulator in São Paulo. The Level-D simulator has been in use in Brazil since last fall to support AW139 initial, recurrent and offshore training at the joint venture facility established by CAE and Brazilian business aviation services group Lider Aviaçao. It will be used to train pilots from Brazil and throughout South America and receives courseware and training standards support from Leonardo’s A Marchetti Training Academy in Italy.      

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