The AW169: a versatile & capable modern helicopter

AvatarSponsored Content | November 3, 2020

Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 15 seconds.

Since its certification in 2015, the AW169 has found success across a range of operating sectors — and this next-generation helicopter just keeps getting better.

One of Leonardo’s newest helicopters is the AW169. The sleek 4.6/4.8-tonne light intermediate twin-engine seats six to 10 passengers, travels up to 440 nautical miles (815 kilometers), reaches a top speed of 160 knots (295 km/h) and climbs to 14,500 feet (4,420 meters). Part of the Leonardo AWFamily of helicopters, it shares design, maintenance and certification commonalities with the bestselling AW139 and the AW189. 

The AW169 offers unparalleled next-generation versatility. After Leonardo extensively tested four prototypes, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certified the AW169 in 2015, making it the first new helicopter in its weight class in over 30 years. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification followed shortly after in 2016. Since then, over 220 AW169 helicop-ters have been purchased across the world for missions including firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical service, offshore and private transport, utility, training and military roles, among other uses. 

The AW169 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A turboshaft engines, reducing emissions (compared with other older engines with similar power in similar class) and increasing efficiency. The modern rotor system ensures high performance and reduced noise for a smooth riding experience for passengers. The AW169’s glass cockpit has touchscreen interfaces, digital maps and night vision goggle (NVG) capability. Thanks to advanced flight and navigation systems, the AW169 can be flown by a single pilot under instrument flight rules (IFR), improving safety during periods of low visibility. Full ice protection is available as an option, making the AW169 the world’s first light helicopter with this capability now under development. 

Auxiliary power unit (APU) mode is a unique AW169 feature. APU mode allows stopped rotors while cabin power remains on, enhancing climate control, safety and comfort while loading and unloading passengers and equipment. Additional mission-specific features include auxiliary fuel tanks, rescue hoists, cargo hooks, flotation devices, wire strike protection systems, mission consoles, loudspeakers and external lighting options. VIP configuration includes sound proofing, state-of-the-art entertainment systems and luxurious interiors with high customization. 

In EMS configuration, the AW169 comfortably fits two stretchers while providing 360-degree patient access. Custom medical configured cabins enable the highest quality of care and meet the most recent U.S. helicopter air ambulance standards for safety and operability. With the AW139, the AW169 was the world’s first EMS civil helicopter allowing for modern biocontainment system transport on board to face the medevac challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The AW169’s modern design and open architecture allow for significant growth potential, and a performance package increase is under development to deliver even greater capabilities in all conditions for a range of missions. Also, the AW169 will soon be available with all types of undercarriage, including fixed and retractable landing gear as well as skids. 

In south-central Texas, STAR Flight — Travis County’s air ambulance operator — relies on three AW169s to complete a variety of missions. STAR Flight is the only 24/7 helicopter EMS provider in Texas that performs highly specialized rescues including emergency medical transport, still and swift water rescue, search-and-rescue, high-angle rescue, fire suppression/aerial reconnaissance, and law safety assistance. STAR Flight also transports neonatal, pediatric ICU, and high-risk obstetrics medical teams and patients. STAR Flight’s AW169s are equipped with a rescue hoist and 300-gallon (1,135-liter) Simplex belly tank for fire suppression. The AW169’s rapidly configurable cabin offers exceptional versatility, allowing crew to tailor equipment for each critical mission. 

Earlier this year in southern Florida, Healthcare District of Palm Beach County ordered two AW169s. The helicopters will be the first from Leonardo to feature a longitudinal roll-on stretcher system to minimize workload and patient movement during loading and unloading. Notably, Healthcare District of Palm Beach County maintains IFR infrastructure combining special instrument approaches and transition routing, plus an extensive FAA-approved IFR pilot training program. The district’s AW169s are equipped with localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) GPS, a precise navigational aid, to further enhance safe approaches and landings during low visibility. 

Operators across the globe rely on the AW169 for fast, efficient and safe flight. The model is flown in Argentina, Germany, Italy, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and the U.K., among other locations.  

Built at Leonardo’s helicopter plant headquarters in Vergiate, Italy, the AW169 combines class-leading performance, safety and all-conditions capability. The AW169 is a next-generation platform available today. 

For more information, please contact: Michael Bucari,


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