Leonardo banks on new model appeal in South America

Leonardo Helicopters characterizes Brazil’s current economic situation as “difficult,” but the company says it remains one of the most important world markets for the company’s products and services. Leonardo’s current commercial and parapublic fleet in Brazil stands at 181 helicopters performing many roles, including executive/corporate transport, law enforcement, public utility and offshore transport. That fleet includes AW119s, AW109s and AW139s, with another 12 Lynx serving in the Navy.

On the military side, the Lynx upgrade program for eight helicopters is ongoing. A recent contract amendment has led to more advanced training for the Brazilian Navy pilots, improvement of the main gearboxes upgrade rate, as well as the start of studies considering a new weapon system for the Lynx MK 21B, its new denomination (AH11B for the Brazilian Navy). The MK21B will feature a glass cockpit, Wildcat-like and new enhanced avionics and electronic warfare (EW) equipment managed by its mission system.

Leonardo is making parapublic inroads as well. The Policia Federal do Brasil operate the AW139, the government of the State of São Paulo operates a GrandNew light twin (AW109SP), delivered in 2015 and currently performing environmental and forest patrols and airborne surveillance, and the State of Rio Grande do Sul is the first South American parapublic operator of the AW119Kx, bringing the total AW119 fleet supporting police and firefighting units to six. In addition to the AW139 used for policing, there are currently 30 AW139s operating in the offshore energy industry in Brazil, and one in the VIP/corporate market. Era (Aeroleo) introduced two AW189s into the Brazilian offshore market this year. The helicopter is being marketed as a lower-cost alternative to the Sikorsky S-92A and Airbus Helicopters H225. With 12 passengers, the 18,960-pound (optional mtow) AW189 has the range to reach and return from energy platforms more than 200 nm offshore. In high-density configuration, the AW189 can transport 18 passengers (with two crew). The manufacturer is offering the AW189 in offshore, private, maritime search-and-rescue and parapublic variants. The AW189 is available with a variety of options and kits and approved for single-pilot IFR. Power comes from a pair of 2,000-shp, Fadec-controlled GE CT72E1 turboshafts. The helicopter has a Rockwell Collins glass-panel avionics suite that is NVG-compatible, a four-axis autopilot and optional rotor ice-protection system.

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