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OEM Outlook The 2019 Rotorcraft Pro


Leonardo enters the new year as one of the world’s largest helicopter manufacturers, with production underway in Italy, Poland, the UK, and the USA. Offering commercial and military helicopters from light singles to medium-heavy lift models, Leonardo’s family of new helicopters – specifically the AW139, AW169, and AW189 – all share a similar approach to design, certification standards, support, and training.


The company had a good year in 2018. For instance, Leonardo signed a contract with Qatar for 28 NH90s valued at around €3 billion (approx. $3.4 billion). Meanwhile the Boeing MH-139, which is based on Leonardo’s AW139, has been selected by the USAF for the UH-1N replacement program.


As well, Leonardo has signed further contracts for dozens of helicopters with Sino-US in China, particularly for EMS applications; reaching a 70% share in the Chinese air ambulance market. It will also supply 21 AW139s to Saudi Aramco for offshore and SAR roles. Leonardo has also begun delivering the AW109 Trekker light twin to customers.


In 2019, Leonardo hopes to attain FAA certification for its AW609 twin-engine, tilt-rotor helicopter, with deliveries starting afterwards. The company also is working on unmanned helicopters, and plans to continue expanding its stable of helicopters and services globally. Also on the radar is the U.S. Navy’s helicopter trainer procurement, for which Leonardo is pitching its TH-119 single-engine, IFR-capable helicopter (a variant of the AW119).


Asked about Leonardo’s biggest challenges in 2019, Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of Leonardo’s Helicopters Division, answered, “Delivering the level of capabilities, cost/effectiveness and service the market is requiring is a top priority and a challenging effort for OEMs. We’re doing this with customized solutions and growing level of service for both maintenance and training on a global scale. The world market has suffered in recent years but, as all manufacturers, we see signs of recovery in it.”


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Jan/Feb 2019


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