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Kopter’s SH09 has been rebranded as the Leonardo AW09, as the program marks its official entry into the Leonardo product range.
The news was announced shortly after the companies celebrated the first anniversary of Leonardo’s $185 million purchase of the Swiss-based upstart manufacturer, announced on the eve of HAI Heli-Expo 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
The rebranding was a collaborative effort between the Kopter and Leonardo marketing teams, they told media during a briefing, with the aim being to both reflect its distinct heritage and its incorporation within the Leonardo product line.
To achieve the former, it has kept its two-digit identifier “09,” making it unique among the Leonardo fleet, with all the OEM’s other types having with a three-digit number (such as AW109, AW119, AW139, AW149, AW189 and AW609). The Kopter company logo — a stylized “+” inspired by the Swiss flag and a four-bladed rotor — is also included on the AW09’s logo, in place of a third digit.
Adopting the “AW” brings it on-brand as a Leonardo aircraft, replacing the “SH” which was a legacy of the company’s original name: Marenco Swisshelicopter.
“The new name is the best mix of two different and complementary identities,” said Marco Viola, Kopter CEO, explaining that the decision was driven by the same integration principles Leonardo had applied to Kopter since the beginning of the process.
“On the one side, [we] enter into a big family — the people but also the product — with a strong heritage and tradition, [so we are] gaining the ‘AW’ mark,” he said. “On the other side, we wanted . . . to maintain and preserve Kopter’s strong original history. . . . Thus keeping the double digit instead of the three digits [of Leonardo’s product range], [and] replacing the third digit with the mark of the Kopter logo.”
The potential for the 2.8-tonne AW09 to be confused with AW009 — an evolved version of the 1.8-tonne SW-4 Leonardo announced at HAI Heli-Expo 2016 — was dismissed by Leonardo, largely because plans for that program have been quietly dropped.
“We haven’t moved forward in the upgrade program on [the] SW-4 because we believed that at a certain point, the market wasn’t there for this kind of investment,” said a Leonardo spokesperson. “But this is a different category compared to the AW09. These are two different markets.”
Continued flight testing with third prototype