The AgustaWestland AW119 Koala (Agusta A119 Koala prior to the Agusta-Westland merger) is an eight-seat utility helicopter powered by a single turboshaft engine and produced for the civil market. It is intended to appeal to operators for whom the lower running costs of a single-engine aircraft outweigh the redundancy of a twin.
The A119 designation was first applied to a proposed 11-seat stretched version of the A109 in the 1970s, but this was never actually built. The aircraft that was eventually to enter production was conceived in 1994, as Agusta was recovering from the financial woes that had nearly put the company out of business, and the second of two prototypes took to the air in February the following year (the first prototype had been used for static tests). These two machines, registrations I-KOAL and I-KNEWwere then presented to the public at the Paris Air Show in June 1995 . Civil certification was originally anticipated in 1997, but that deadline was missed, Agusta citing personnel problems, and a need to increase the performance of the aircraft to meet customer expectations.
By way of a solution to the latter concern, the decision was taken to change the A119's powerplant. The prototypes were originally fitted with Turboméca Arriel 2K1 turboshafts, but the ubiquitous Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B was chosen in its place. In 1998, the prototypes were remanufactured with this engine, being assigned new serial numbers at that time. Certification was now expected by the fourth quarter of that year, but even this date slipped to July 1999, and it was eventually December before Italian RAI certification was awarded. US FAA certification was awarded in February the following year. Customer deliveries began soon thereafter , with the first commercial example going to Australian logistics company Linfox (serial 14007, registration VH-FOX).
The design itself was derived from Agusta's highly successful A109, but with only a single engine (as the A109 was originally designed) and with fixed skids replacing the retractable wheeled landing gear. A key selling point is its wide-body fuselage, seating passengers three-abreast in the cabin, or allowing for two litters and medical attendants to be carried in the medevac role, whereas most similar-sized helicopters can only carry one. The actual cabin volume is approximately 30% greater than other helicopters in its class.
For demonstration and publicity purposes, the two prototypes I-KOAL and I-KNEW appeared in eye-catching all-yellow and all-red liveries respectively.
Data from AgustaWestland website
Published in July 2009.
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