A little more than a year after the acquisition of the Swiss company Kopter Group AG, the SH09 single-engine helicopter joins the Leonardo Helicopters product range rebranded as AW09.
Let's recap some of the highlights of this past year, which led us to this milestone. In June 2020 the helicopter was transferred to Pozzallo, Sicily, for the validation of the new tail rotor configuration and other aerodynamic modifications. In September it returned to Switzerland for further checks with the support of the Engineering and Operations team. The first flights began in October and a further retrofit was implemented in December, reconfirmed in March by the flight tests conducted by Giuseppe Afruni, Chief Test Pilot and Head of Flight Operations of the Helicopter Division in Italy.
The Kopter team is becoming gradually more and more integrated in the Leonardo Helicopters family, and will play an important role in the development of new technologies and essential technology enablers, with the contribution to the development of new hybrid and electrical propulsion systems, for instance. In this way, the long-term strategy goal of strengthening Leonardo’s market position will be pursued while Kopter will be able to become a centre of competence for light helicopters and innovative technologies.
The AW09 fits perfectly into the Helicopters Division portfolio, representing an additional step in the integration process of Kopter into Leonardo while further strengthening the offer in the single-engine category, where, with its latest generation performance and multi-role capability, it offers a further option to customers and operators thanks to increased modularity, modern electronic systems, high digitalization and the largest cabin and cargo hold in its category.
The AW09 is representative of Leonardo's leadership capacity in the field of innovation, thanks to its latest generation safety standards and the most advanced technologies, which will lead to the development of new advancements in the helicopter sector.
Currently the third prototype P3, which has accumulated over 40 flying hours in Switzerland since mid-January, is testing innovations to the main rotor, gearbox, and a new flight control design incorporated into the modern Garmin G3000H cockpit.
Two more prototypes, PS4 and PS5, are expected to begin in-flight testing this year.