Here’s what we know about the Lulu Group’s AW109SP private helicopter that recently did a precautionary landing in Kochi
Words: Neeraj Padmakumar
Indian Bizman MA Yusuf Ali has hit the news again by making a narrow escape from a ‘chopper crash’ when his AgustaWestland AW109 SP (with the tail number VT-YMA) made a precautionary landing in Kochi. As reported by media majors, and further backed by the aviation authorities, the crash was due to engine failure and adverse weather. The heavy rains of the place helped the pilot do a rough landing in a ‘swamp’ safely, thus evading what would otherwise have been a super expensive crash! While the Indian billionaire and wife, who were aboard the bird have all escaped unhurt, here is a compilation of all the information that we have of the AgustaWestland AW109SP choppers.
AW109SP : What Is It?
AgustaWestland AW109SP is a lightweight, twin-engine, multirole copter manufactured by the Anglo-Italian chopper manufacturer Agusta Westland, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leonardo S.p.A. The rotorcraft is known globally for its performance, payload capacity, and cabin space. The operating costs are also on the lower side when compared to the competition. It is preferred by various businessmen across the globe for their time-efficient commuting needs.
The AW109SP, or the AW109SP GrandNew as its current-gen is known, has evolved from the AW109S Grand, which was a very successful model for AgustaWestland globally, owing to its technical and practical upper hand over the predecessors. The AW109S Grand (or just the Agusta Grand) had entered service in 2005 and has since been deployed in various roles worldwide, like Medevac, light transport, search and rescue, and even military roles. The chopper gets a lengthened cabin and slightly redrawn rotor blades from the ‘Power’ version. As it is preferred by many VVIPs across the globe, the AW109 Grand comes with a highly customizable cabin.
The AW109SP is mostly similar to the Agusta Grand, except for the fact that it gets a lot of highly significant modern-day electronics/pilot-aids over the less equipped Grand. To handpick, there are Instrument flight rules (IFR), Terrain Awareness and Warning System TAWS, Synthetic Vision System, Highway In The Sky, Four-Axis autopilot, and EVS. All these modern-day avionics bump up the aircraft safety and pilot situational awareness by great chunks.
Seating Capacity And Payload
The AW109SP can seat a total of 8 persons, (1 or 2 crew plus 7 or 6 passengers) The cabin has a highly configurable layout for boosting the occupant’s comfort and convenience levels.
|Cabin Volume||3.90 cubic meter|
|Baggage Volume||0.90 cubic meter|
Much like the Agusta Grand, the AW109SP too gets two turboshaft engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Canada, going by the name PW207C (PW200 is the family of Pratt & Whitney turboshaft chopper engines) While the AW109SP comes with PW207C engines, the Agusta AW109E Power has PW206C turbines. The PW207C engines on the AW109SP can churn out 572 shp each (which is a good 11 shp more than that of the Agusta Power engine)
The rotorcraft can do airspeeds of up to 156 kts and has a maximum take-off weight of 3200 kilograms with external load. It is thus, the fastest helicopter in its class. The bird also offers a maximum range of 859 kilometers, making it a desirable flying machine for the super-rich.
|Rate Of Climb||1,820 ft/min|
|Hover OGE||10,000 ft|
|Hover IGE||15,600 ft|
|Maximum Endurance||4 hours 31 minutes|
There have been several incidents of AW109SPs running into crashes worldwide. However, going by the chopper safety standards of its time, the AW109SPs are said to be on the safer side. Its fuselage, fuel system, and cabin have all been certified crashworthy. In fact, it could fly to and from congested areas even with one of the engines inoperational (OEI condition)
While the modern-day interpretation of the AW109SP- the ‘AW109 GrandNew’ would cost you around $5.5 Million, you could definitely find units of AW109SP with low TTAF figures for sale in the US at much cheaper prices.
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