Leonardo and Safran Helicopter Engines recently joined forces to further enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of the next generation AW09 single-engine helicopter. The production aircraft will feature the 1,000 shp class of power Arriel 2K engine, the newest generation of the Arriel family.
The selection of the new engine guarantee the most efficient level of industrialization, global supply and supportability for customers. The combined Leonardo and Safran Helicopter Engines support network will provide innovative, simplified and competitive maintenance solutions and cost of operations, sustained by tailored PBH (Power-By-The-Hour) and SBH (Support-By-the-Hour) contracts as well as a large range of digital services.
Leonardo and Safran Helicopter Engines boast a longstanding and now further expanding partnership spanning from propulsion systems for light twins up to super medium class helicopters. The two companies also share now the highest level of interest and commitment for the single-engine commercial market and its future evolution.
“Since the integration of Kopter into our organization and the introduction of the AW09 into our product range, we have firmly maintained our commitment to deliver to the market exactly what it expects from a single engine of the latest standards backed by an efficient and responsive global support network,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, MD of Leonardo Helicopters. “The decision to select this propulsion system is totally consistent with this strategy and we look forward to working with our partner to bring the most modern single engine on the commercial market.”
Franck Saudo, Safran Helicopter Engines CEO, commented: “We are proud that Leonardo has placed its trust once again in Safran Helicopter Engines to power its latest light helicopter. We will bring to the AW09 our strong expertise in single-engine helicopter applications together with the specific feature of the engine. The Arriel 2K engine is the latest version of the well-known Arriel engine family and will clearly bring high level of capability, reliability and ease of operations to the AW09.”
The new propulsion system is already installed on the latest AW09 prototype, PS4 (Pre Series 4), which is about to start flight test activities at Kopter’s facility in Mollis. PS4 includes all developments implemented and tested on P3, the previous prototype, allowing to reach the AW09 final configuration. PS5, the next and final prototype is planned to follow later in 2023.
The AW09 programme performed major steps forward in 2022 in parallel to the integration of the production propulsion system, including flying the new & final main rotor blades and agreeing the type certification basis with EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).
The AW09 will continue to be developed by Kopter in Switzerland with the contribution of joint Leonardo-Kopter teams. Kopter is set to become a Center of Competence for new light helicopters and an incubator of new technologies for vertical flight. As such, it will contribute to the development of new hybrid and electrical propulsion systems and will play an important role in the framework of Leonardo’s Be Tomorrow 2030 strategic plan, which aims to be in the leading position on the civil rotorcraft market and modern air mobility.
The single-engine AW09 offers increased modularity, modern electronic systems, high digitalization and the largest cabin and cargo hold in its category. Its superior characteristics — including fast cruise speeds and hot-and-high capabilities — are combined with a low noise signature resulting from the newly-developed dynamic assembly and shrouded tail-rotor.
Safran Helicopter Engines is the propulsion market leader for single-engine helicopters. The Arriel is one of Safran’s best sellers with over 15 000 engines in operation. Every day the engine enhances its reputation as a safe and reliable partner, especially for operators flying demanding EMS, search and rescue, law enforcement, maritime surveillance missions and aerial work.