1,600+ Helicopters and Counting
On 4 August, Leonardo celebrated the 50th anniversary of the A109 helicopter’s maiden flight.
An iconic product, that represented a step-change in the company’s fortunes, the A109 led the charge in establishing Leonardo’s reputation for helicopter design, development, and manufacturing.
Best-in-class performance and speed, a sleek design for superior aerodynamics, in-house modern main gear box and transmission design and development, mission versatility and high levels of customisation – all contributed to winning, distinguished features and core capabilities at Leonardo, which played a significant part in the expansion of its growing multirole and dual-use helicopter range over the coming decades.
The new model featured a four-blade articulated main rotor, a semi-rigid two-blade tail rotor and retractable landing gear, delivering unique handling and overall flying qualities. The 2.4t eight-seat type was certified both in Italy and the US four years later, entering the market in 1976. It also allowed the company to enter the highly competitive US market, where it leveraged the establishment of a logistics centre in Philadelphia, which has subsequently become home to Leonardo’s helicopter industrial presence in the US for comprehensive rotorcraft manufacturing, support and training services.
Starting in the mid-1970s, early success led to a continued and increased presence of the company in the challenging light-twin segment of the global market, with a number of versions and newly-certified types for a wide array of civil, public service and military applications. New 3t-class models include the popular POWER and GRAND, as well as the more recent GrandNew and TREKKER aircraft, not to mention more customised military and government variants such as the LUH and NEXUS. With the latest designs, Leonardo has introduced modern digital avionics, spacious cabins, enhanced dynamics, new engines and all-main undercarriage options, reaching a total number of over 1,600 light-twin helicopters sold over a half century to customers in more than 50 countries, across all continents, for all-weather operations over land and sea.