City leaders and Arlington residents had a chance to see AgustaWestland’s latest helicopter take a demo flight recently over Arlington Municipal Airport.
AgustaWestland is expanding its flight activities in the U.S. with the addition of the AW189, an eight-ton class twin-engine helicopter program following the AW609 Tilt Rotor.
Robert LaBelle, Managing Director for AgustaWestland Tilt Rotor Company, said the demonstration conveyed the presence the company has in Arlington and the United States.
“By seeing this aircraft flying, you are seeing a helicopter company that is continually investing in and fielding new products,” said LaBelle.
In 2011, AgustaWestland decided to buy the Tilt-Rotor portion of Bell Helicopter and entered into a 40-year lease with the City of Arlington to create a separate facility at the Arlington Municipal Airport. The Italian company provides about 150 jobs in Arlington. City Manager Trey Yelverton and Deputy City Manager Don Jakeway were on hand to watch the AW189 demonstration and the helicopter’s diverse functionality.
“AgustaWestland chose Arlington as a place to thrive and expand operations, and we are excited to see how far they have come in the past year,” said Yelverton.
The AW189 is optimized for offshore transport, search and rescue, parapublic and passenger transport missions. The AW189 program has logged over 800 flight hours with more than 160 hours in the U.S. The AW189 is now headed to Alaska for additional flight tests.
Through this Arlington-based program, AgustaWestland continues to introduce the latest generation technologies to meet market needs for longer range, higher payload and outstanding mission versatility and safety standards combined with lower operating costs. Several operators across the globe have already signed contracts for more helicopters, including Era Group, Bristow Group, Bond Aviation, Gulf Helicopters, Weststar and BelAir.
“The economic impact of having companies like AgustaWestland here is significant,” said Airport Manager Karen VanWinkle. “It represents AgustaWestland’s commitment to the airport and really putting down roots in this community.”
The AW189 is part of AgustaWestland’s family of new generation helicopters that also includes the AW169 and the AW139 intermediate models. Helicopters across the family concept all possess the same high performance flight characteristics and safety features. Additionally, they share the same common cockpit layout, design philosophy and maintenance concepts. LaBelle says this approach will deliver real cost savings in areas such as training, maintenance and support for companies operating at least two out of the three helicopter models.