- 29 Mar 2023
- Matt Harris
- AvBuyer Africa Articles
Agusta is a highly regarded name in the history of VIP and Corporate turbine helicopters, with the modern variants of its twin-turbine A109 brand still in production today under the Leonardo umbrella.
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An Agusta (or later AgustaWestland) AW109-series helicopter on the pre-owned market costs between $350k for a 1976-model A109 and $6.5m for a 2016-model A109 Grand New, according to Aircraft Bluebook’s Fall 2022 data. AgustaWestland was merged into Leonardo in 2016, becoming Leonardo Helicopters, so models manufactured under Agusta or AgustaWestland are only available on the pre-owned market, but remain popular with buyers today.
As of October 2022 there were 499 Agusta/AgustaWestland helicopters flying worldwide, per JETNET. The A109S Grand has the largest in-operation fleet, with 164 units. Currently there have been 224 Agusta helicopter retirements from a total 726 units built.
Agusta or AgustaWestland helicopters offer maximum ranges between 219nm for the AW109C, up to 580nm for an AW139, according to Conklin & de Decker.
There are several other twin-engine helicopter models competing with the A109-series from Agusta, including models from Airbus (and previously Eurocopter), Bell, Enstrom, and MD Helicopters. In the light multi-engine market, Airbus, Bell, newer Leonardo models, and MD Helicopters models are available, while in the medium multi-engine category, Airbus, Bell and Sikorsky manufacture models competing with the AW139 and AW169, along with certain Eurocopter models on the pre-owned market. In the heavy multi-engine category, Airbus and Sikorsky produce models competing with the AW189, while olders from Eurocopter are available on the pre-owned market.
Agusta Turbine Helicopters Overview
By Gerrard Cowan - Editor, Aircraft Reviews
Agusta A109 Origins
The Agusta A109 helicopter line began life in the 1970s with the Agusta A109A. Agusta updated the family several times over the decades, both as a stand-alone entity, and then as part of AgustaWestland (a Finmeccanica subsidiary that was established in 2000).
Finmeccanica changed its name to Leonardo in 2016, with AgustaWestland helicopters now known under this brand.
The A109 family was a great success for Agusta over the years, and remains key for Leonardo today, under the AW109 name.
The company launched a number of variants of the A109 before becoming AgustaWestland. The A109A began deliveries in 1976. It was a market innovation at that time, thanks to the speed and redundancy provided by its twin engines.
The lightweight helicopter can carry up to six passengers, though typically in passenger transport configuration it holds five, with two in armchair seats and three in a rear-facing bench seat. The A109A is powered by two Allison 250-C14 turboshaft engines.
The Agusta A109A MkII was launched in the early 1980s, introducing more powerful 45 shp Allison250C20R/1 turboshaft engines to the platform.
The next aircraft in the line that was, in part, pitched to VIP and corporate operators was the Agusta A109C, a significant upgrade on its predecessor. The A109C brought an improved transmission system, stronger undercarriage and a higher gross weight, and is fitted with Rolls-Royce 250C20R1 engines.
Other improvements introduced through the A109C included the addition of a composite main rotor. The A109C brought a number of benefits, notably the provision of extra space, made possible by the introduction of modified doors and a number of other upgrades.
Following on from the A109C was the Agusta A109E Power, which came to market in the mid-1990s. It is based on the airframe of the A109K2, a variant of the brand usually deployed in parapublic roles (such as police or HEMS work).
The A109E Power brought a number of improvements to the long-running line, particularly through the addition of new engines, with versions of the platform coming with either Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 or Pratt & Whitney PW206C engines.
The upgraded aircraft offers business operators all the benefits of the A109 range, combined into an aircraft that truly packs a punch. The stretched Agusta A109 Power Elite could prove an attractive option for those who require more capacity in their aircraft.
A109 Legacy Continued Under Leonardo
The A109 brand remains successful today under the control of Leonardo, with the major focus being the AW109 GrandNew and the AW109 Trekker.
Read Mike Chase's Helicopter Comparison - MD Explorer 900/902 vs Augusta Westland A109C
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