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Leonardo expands AW169 capabilities with skid, SAR Mode certifications

November 10, 2022  By Helicopters Staff

The AW169 light intermediate twin engine helicopter’s operational capabilities and configuration options grow further with the recent EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) certification of the skid undercarriage and unique IFR, single pilot, Advanced Search and Rescue (SAR) Modes. Leonardo explains these latest achievements follow additional enhancements, such as the introduction of the Phase 8 core avionics software release combined with HTAWS (Helicopter terrain Awareness Warning System) Offshore Modes.

The introduction of skids adds to the existing retractable and fixed landing gear options, providing the market with all three undercarriage solutions. Leonardo states this makes the AW169 the only modern CS29-certified aircraft able to offer all options, demonstrating the versatility by design of the type. This certification will enable the start of aircraft deliveries with the skid configuration, the initial handover is planned for Italy’s law enforcement operators.

Leonardo explains the new Advanced Search and Rescue (SAR) Modes introduce dedicated FMS (Flight Management System) search patterns enabling the aircraft to automatically fly along a predefined search path, which reduces pilot’s workload on the search phase of a SAR mission. The AW169, according to Leonardo, is the only helicopter in its weight category that features Advanced SAR Modes. Leonardo explains this high level of automation allows for single pilot capable SAR modes certification, making the AW169 the world’s first civil-certified helicopter with this capability.

More Leonardo developments to expand the range of options and kits also include a 700 to 880 kg capable modular fuel tank installation or a 3-seat installation in the third seat row that increases the number of passengers in the cabin to 11. These latest enhancements add to AW169 performance increase packages that were certified in late 2021.


The AW169’s dual-use design, explains Leonardo, is suitable for a range of government, homeland security and defence requirements in Italy and abroad for missions like surveillance, troop transport, combat operations, disaster relief and emergency response, fire-fighting, training, mountain rescue and medevac.

More than 300 AW169s are on order today, with around 150 units delivered from the Vergiate final assembly line (Italy) to operators in 25 countries. The global fleet has logged in excess of 125,000 flight hours, including the fleet leader operation which has exceeded 3,000 flight hours in EMS operations in Sweden.


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