PZL Świdnik Leonardo AW.149. 2009.

Warszawa 2018-05-28

PZL Świdnik Leonardo Helicopters AW.149.

316a Section 2009 rok. Poland.

History AW.149.

AW.149. 2013 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
AW.149. 2013 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

AW.149. 2013 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
AW.149. 2013 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Company Agusta.

The Agusta plant was established in 1907. It was then that the Italian designer Giovanni Agusta founded a company producing airplanes of his own design. The Great World War interrupted the company's operations. Production resumed in 1923. The company then adopted the new name Costruzioni Aeronautiche Agusta S.p.a. The plant was located in Samarate in Lombardy in northern Italy. The company's biggest task was the four-engine Agusta A.Z.8 aircraft, designed, among other things, to carry 26 passengers. The aircraft made its first flight on June 9, 1958. Its design resembles the Douglas DC-4 aircraft. The factory did not receive a single order for this aircraft.

However, already in 1952, the Agusta company purchased the Bell 47 helicopter license. This decision influenced the change of the production profile. Agusta and Bell's collaboration in many studies and programs continues to this day.

Agusta helicopters are traditionally marked with the letter "A" followed by a three-digit number. The first was the A.101 helicopter, which can take 35 passengers on board. The Agusta company also started producing turbine drives for its products. In 1961, Agusta purchased a license for another Bell product, the Bell UH-1 Huey helicopter. In 1967, a license was purchased for the production of Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopters, produced in several versions. Also in 1967, a license was purchased to manufacture the Boeing CH-47. In 1971, Agusta built its most recognizable helicopter, the A.109. In 1983, the first attack helicopter with the designation Agusta A.129 Mangusta made its first flight. In 1983, Agusta acquired the Italian aircraft manufacturer SIAI-Marchetti.

Augusta's cooperation with the British company Westland Helicopters dates back to the early 1980s. The first joint project was the AgustaWestland AW.101 helicopter, which replaced the Sea King helicopter. Cooperation with other companies in Western Europe was also initiated. In 1992, all these companies formed the NHIndustries consortium, in which Agusta had shares. The result of the work was the NHI NH90 helicopter.

In 1998, the company formed a joint venture with Bell Helicopter Textron known as the Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company. The product of this collaboration is the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, the Bell/Agusta BA609, the predecessor of the V-22.

In 2001, Agusta and British Westland Helicopters merged to create a new company, AgustaWestland, which has approximately 20% of the global helicopter market. To date, about 20 types of helicopters have been created for various tasks.

Polish share in Agusta.

WSK PZL Świdnik, looking for orders so as not to lead to the liquidation of the plant, in 1996 concluded a contract with Agusta for the production of structural elements of Agusta A.109 helicopters (currently AgustaWestland AW.109) in Świdnik. The production of helicopter fuselages and tail beams has started in Świdnik. In 2006, the 500th A.109 hull was delivered from Świdnik. In 2001, the cooperation was extended to the production of the hull for the Agusta A.119 Koala model (currently AgustaWestland AW.119). Świdnik had a large share in the design and production of the AgustaWestland AW.139. Since 2012, complete hulls for the AW.139 model have been manufactured in Świdnik.

AW.149 helicopter.

The AW.149 helicopter is one of the most modern helicopters in the world. According to information from May 2015, the company planned to build 350 copies over the next 20 years, which may generate revenues for PZL Świdnik in the amount of over PLN 50 billion.

In Poland, in an atmosphere of scandal, the EC725 Caracal helicopter from Airbus Helicopters was chosen. Fortunately, the selection was annulled because the new Government of the Republic of Poland assessed that Airbus was unable to offer a basic offset. Further talks were pointless. In such a situation, the topic of acquiring new helicopters for the Polish Army returned. In such a situation (2018), companies that produce helicopters in Poland, i.e. Świdnik and Mielec, have a chance.

The AW.149 helicopter has already been demonstrated several times in Poland, on the occasion of various exhibitions and shows.

In May 2015, it was demonstrated in Warsaw at the Bemowo Airport on the ground and in flight. Previously, the shows were held in Świdnik. The president of PZL Świdnik, Mr. Krzysztof Krystowski, was personally involved in the promotion of the new helicopter, which is not yet produced in Świdnik.

Interest of the Polish Army.

The Polish Army was and is interested in three AgustaWestland / Leonardo Helicopters helicopters. One of them is the larger AW.101, the second is the smaller AW.149, and the third is the native W-3PL Głuszec.

AW.149 helicopter.

The first flight of the AW.149 helicopter was made on November 13, 2009. AgustaWestland AW.149 is a multi-purpose helicopter manufactured by the Leonardo company (formerly AgustaWestland), designed to perform transport tasks, support the battlefield, combat and sea rescue and command machines. The helicopter is an enlarged version of the AgustaWestland AW.139 helicopter.

The AW.149 helicopter was built in response to an order placed by the Italian armed forces for a new rescue helicopter. So far, AgustaWestland has offered light AW.109 LUH and heavy AW.101 machines. Among them was the AW.139M medium helicopter. The AW.149 was supposed to have similar combat capabilities as the NHI NH90, but much cheaper to operate.

The first official information about starting the AW.149 program appeared in 2006. In July 2014, the helicopter received an Italian certificate.

Leonardo estimates that the AW.149 helicopter will serve future users for at least 40 years. It has been designed to meet the modern challenges of cross-border military contingent operations and national security protection while providing a unique tactical advantage.

The helicopter has a low noise and vibration level. Modern avionics enable operation in all weather conditions, both during the day and at night. Glass cockpit with four multifunctional screens is fully compatible with NVG goggles. The integrated digital avionics system works with mission equipment and a 4-axis dual autopilot. Advanced systems for monitoring and showing the status of the helicopter and communication with the crew ensure high situational awareness. OWS (Obstacle Warning System), TAWS (Terrain Avoidance and Warning System), and TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) warning systems increase safety while reducing crew workload. The transport cabin and cockpit are fully shatterproof and bulletproof. Armored crew seats and transport cabin seats absorb energy during hard landings. Critical elements of the helicopter are duplicated. The main rotor gearbox can run without oil for 50 min.

The AW.149 is a helicopter with a take-off weight of 8,600 kg, with the possibility of taking an external payload of 2,800 kg. The helicopter can fly at a maximum cruising speed of 278 km/h and can perform tasks with 12 armed soldiers on board, within a radius of approximately 280 km (150 NM).

The AW.149 model participated in a helicopter competition for Turkey, in which it ultimately lost to the S-70i Black Hawk helicopter, of which 109 were ordered in 2014.

PZL Świdnik entered the AW.149 in the tender for a multi-role helicopter (based on a common platform) for the Land Forces, Navy and Air Force of the Republic of Poland in the infamous tender for the Polish Army in 2012.

The first helicopter show in Poland took place in Dęblin. In 2013, the AW.149 helicopter was presented at the Air Show in Radom. In 2013 and 2016, PZL Świdnik showed the AW.149 helicopter at the MSPO fair in Kielce.

AW.149 helicopter, which can be easily reconfigured to perform various tasks: transport, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), search and rescue operations - including combat (SAR and Combat SAR), special operations, reconnaissance and close air support. In Kielce, the machine received additional armament, including guided ones. As one of the armament variants, PZL Świdnik presents laser-guided missiles offered by Thales. A similarly designed CIRIT rocket pod is being demonstrated as a potential option. In addition, the machine can also carry containers with small arms.

Design AW.149.

The AW.149 helicopter is a very modern design made mainly of composites. The helicopter crew consists of two pilots. There is room for 18 passengers or 15 armed soldiers in the hold. Access to the hold is through large sliding doors on both sides. The helicopter does not have a rear ramp. In the medical version, it is possible to transport six injured people on stretchers and six people on armchairs. There is a fuel tank behind the cargo cabin. Both pilots' seats are armored. The helicopter has a three-support landing gear, partially retractable in flight. The front, consisting of two wheels, is hidden in the fuselage, the main one (two legs with single wheels) in the side fairings on both sides of the fuselage. As standard, the helicopter is to be equipped with an electro-optical head. The armament is suspended on external jibs. The hold has a volume of 11.20 cubic meters.

AW.149 main rotor; The helicopter has a 5-blade rotor with the possibility of using an anti-icing system. 4-blade tail propeller.

AW.149 drive.

The drive consists of two General Electric GE CT7-2E1 turbine engines equipped with the FADEC electronic control system. The drive consists of two GE CT7-2E1 turbine engines with a power of 2 x 1,477 kW (2 x 2,000 hp). The main gear can run without oil for 50 minutes.

AW.149 equipment.

The helicopter features an open avionics system architecture and is equipped with the HUMS (Health and Usage Monitoring System) helicopter health monitoring system.

The equipment consists of: Air conditioning. Anti-icing installation. Integrated dust filter. External suspension lock with a maximum capacity of 3,000 kg. Float installation for emergency launching. 272 kg external electric winch with utility lighting for retrieving survivors. Guillotine for cutting ropes and wires to protect the main rotor. Convex windows in the transport cabin (bubble window) for improved visibility. Landing equipment. 4-axis digital autopilot. Flight recorder and voice recorder. FLIR observation system. Illumination compatible with NVG night vision goggles. HUMS monitoring system. weather radar. Danger signal radio transmitter. Passive defense measures. Radio ranger. Fully integrated avionics based on the MIL-STD-1553B databus and four Active Matrix Liquid Crystal Displays (6 x 8 inches). Rocket launchers with 7, 12 and 19 70 and 81 mm rockets. 7.62 mm machine gun installed in the window. 12.7 mm or 20 mm machine gun cartridge. A pod with a 12.7 mm machine gun and three 70 mm rocket launchers. Adaptation to a rocket launcher to combat ground and air targets. Self-sealing fuel tanks. Ballistic protection.

T-T AW.149 data:

Overall length 17.57 m. Hull length 14.60 m. Hull width 3.02 m. Height 5.14 m. Rotor diameter 14.60 m. Take-off weight 8,600 kg. Top speed 313 km/h. Cruising speed 278 km/h. Climb speed 9.9 m/s. Service ceiling 15,000 ft. Hover ceiling in ground effect 1,830 m. Range 800 km. Flight duration 4 hours.

Tally AW.149.

The number of helicopters or AW.149 hulls built in Poland is unknown. The Polish Army has not yet ordered any AW.149 helicopter.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman