The AgustaWestland AW139, now known as the Leonardo AW139, is a 15-seat medium-sized twin-engined helicopter developed and produced by the Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland (now part of Leonardo).
It is marketed at several different roles, including VIP/corporate transport, military use, offshore transport, firefighting, law enforcement, search and rescue, emergency medical service, disaster relief, and maritime patrol.
The AW139 was originally designed jointly by the Italian helicopter manufacturer Agusta and the American company Bell Helicopters, thus it was marketed as the Agusta-Bell AB139 but was redesignated as the AW139 after Bell withdrew from the project.
In addition to AgustaWestland’s manufacturing facilities in Italy and the United States, other companies are also involved in the program, such as the Polish manufacturer PZL-Świdnik, which has produced hundreds of AW139 airframes, and HeliVert, a joint venture between AgustaWestland and Russian Helicopters, which has also established a production line inside Russia for the type.
Having performed its maiden flight on 3 February 2001, the AW139 entered revenue service during 2003 and quickly proved itself to be a commercial success.
Many of the AW139 customers have been in the civilian sector; large fleets have been obtained by operators such as CHC Helicopter, Gulf Helicopters, and Weststar Aviation.
Its performance has enabled it to become popular amongst operators supporting the offshore oil and gas industry.
A dedicated militarised model, the AW139M, was also developed by AgustaWestland; it was first procured by the Italian Air Force, other military operators include the United States Air Force, which operates the MH-139 Grey Wolf model.
The Japanese business Mitsui Bussan Aerospace has obtained an exclusive distribution agreement for the AW139 in the country.
Over 1,100 rotorcraft had been sold by January 2021.
The AW139 has been subsequently developed into the AW149, an enlarged medium-lift military-orientated rotorcraft.
The AW139 is a conventional twin-engine multi-role helicopter.
It has a five-bladed fully articulated main rotor with a titanium hub and composite blades and a four-bladed articulated tail rotor.
It is fitted with retractable tricycle landing gear, the two aft wheels retracting into external sponsons which are also used to house emergency equipment.
It is flown by a crew of two pilots, with up to 15 passengers accommodated in three rows of five.
The AW139 had been aimed at a vacant niche in the market, sitting below larger types such as the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma and Sikorsky S-92, and above smaller ones like the Bell 412 and Eurocopter EC155.
Rotor & Wing has described the AW139’s flying attitude as ‘docile and predictable’.
The AW139 is powered by two FADEC-controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C turboshaft engines; the FADEC system seamlessly adjusts the engines for pilot convenience and passenger comfort and can automatically handle a single-engine failure without noticeable deviation.
It was constructed with maintenance requirements in mind; critical systems can be readily accessed, where possible the number of parts has been reduced, and many components have been designed for an extended lifecycle; a Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) is also equipped.
More than a thousand customizable items of equipment can be configured per customer demand, including auxiliary fuel tanks, rescue hoists, cargo hooks, search and weather radar, ice protection systems, external cameras and searchlights, and seating arrangements.
The AW139 cockpit is based on the modular Honeywell Primus EPIC avionics system incorporating a four LCD screen glass cockpit.
Although an option on early models, most aircraft include a four-axis autopilot, which allows higher levels of automation and safety and enables advanced functions such as auto-hover.
This level of automation has allowed certification for single-pilot operations under instrument flight rules conditions (SPIFR), and the cockpit can also optionally be modified for compatibility with night vision goggles.
The latest version of the Primus EPIC avionics systems includes a synthetic vision system.
Pilot training for the type is available via advanced Level D Full Flight Simulators.
Large sections of the AW139 have been developed and produced by a range of different companies.
Airframes are typically produced by PZL-Świdnik, who delivered their 200th airframe in April 2014.
Pratt & Whitney Canada produce the type’s PT6C turboshaft engines, while the primary and secondary transmissions were developed by Westland GKN and Kawasaki Heavy Industries respectively.
A significant portion of the avionics are sourced from Honeywell.
Turkish Aerospace Industries has been subcontracted to manufacture various elements of the AW139, including the fuselage, canopy, and radome.
Final assembly of most AW139s is performed at AgustaWestland’s facilities in Philadelphia, United States, and Vergiate, Italy; those destined for customers within the Commonwealth of Independent States are typically assembled by a third final manufacturing plant in Tomilino, Moscow operated by HeliVert.
Original Italian-built production aircraft, 54 built.
Designation changes from 55th aircraft onwards, built in Italy.
(Long nose configuration)
Long nose variant with increased room for avionics built in Italy and the United States.
Militarised variant, capable of carrying various weapons payloads.
Italian Air Force designation for ten search-and rescue configured AW139Ms.
Italian Air Force designation for two VIP configured AW139s.
Italian Air Force designation for newer AW139.
Italian State Police designation.
Italian Carabinieri designation.
Italian Guardia di Finanza designation.
This military variant was the AgustaWestland proposed entry for the US Army Light Utility Helicopter program in partnership with L-3 Communications.
MH-139 Grey Wolf
Military variant from Boeing in partnership with Leonardo.
It was selected by the United States Air Force to replace its UH-1N fleet.
The USAF accepted its first MH-139 on 19 December 2019 and named it “Grey Wolf”.
A variant offered to the Polish Armed Forces.
One or two
Up to 15 passengers, depending on configuration.
16.66 m (54 ft 8 in)
2.26 m (10 ft 0 in)
4.98 m (16 ft 4 in)
6,400 kg (14,110 lb); 7,000 kg (15,000 lb) for 7 t version