A Helicopter's Family
The purpose of the Family concept is clear – to develop a modular design approach that delivers tangible benefits to customers in areas such as commonality, weight reduction, improved reliability through new solutions as well as re-use of the most reliable components, and a reduction in total cost of ownership.To realise the full potential of the concept AgustaWestland launched the AW Product Family and Modularity Programme in 2013, which aims to capture the business opportunities and ensure that customers gain maximum benefit from the modular design approach. The company has defined three work streams that are the focus for current work. The first relates specifically to improving the Family feeling of the AW139, AW169 and AW189; the second is about optimising the kits offering and the third relates to developing a modular approach to key systems and components on the aircraft. Market reaction to the development has been extremely positive – to date more than 20 operators worldwide have already signed contracts for two or more members of the Family, with helicopters due to be deployed in sectors as diverse as offshore transport, corporate/VIP, SAR (Search and Rescue) and EMS (Emergency Medical Services).
Delivering real improvements
A key goal of the programme is to achieve a 15 percentage point increase in the share of identical and parametrical components, materials and technologies across the AW139, AW169, AW189 Family. One example of how this approach is paying off is the development of a single basic passenger seat design that is fully interchangeable across the entire civil helicopter product line. The seat, which is currently in final development, is expected to achieve certification in early 2016. It features an adjustable seat reference point with three locking positions, meaning that it is suitable also any future new models in the product line. The new seat design brings a number of benefits. It allows us to fully exploit economies of scale, it gives maximum comfort for passengers because it can fit different cabin heights and it also provides significant weight and cost benefits.
Time is also an important factor
Reduced training hours for pilots and technicians is another objective for the programme. Here too, significant progress has been made. In terms of transition training for pilots between the AW139 and AW189 the total number of flight hours required (including Flight Training Device, Full Flight Simulator and live flying) has been reduced by around 16 hours – a reduction of 33 per cent. The duration of ground training for mechanical and avionics technicians has been reduced by 25% from 20 days to 15. For operators, these numbers are important because they directly affect the cost to train their crews and impact on the ease of transition between helicopter types. Other examples of advantages offered by the Famly include the rescue hoist, where the total number of subsystem variants has been reduced from 23 to nine and the number of installation variants (full kit) cut from nine to six. In addition, an integrated emergency and floatation system under development will provide a weight saving of more than 42kg based on a 14-seat configuration.
Why choose the Family Concept
The key customer benefits derived from the Family’s modular approach include:
• Reduced training hours for pilots and technicians
• Easier second type certifications
• Enhanced flexibility in fleet planning
• Reduced unplanned maintenance burden
• Reduced stock of spares
• Less variability in operating procedures leading to improved safety
• Reduction in total cost of ownership