The Bell/Agusta AB139
has been awarded FAA Certification. Ground and flight testing was
completed at the Agusta facility in Cacina Costa, Italy and at the
Honeywell facility in Phoenix, Arizona. High altitude trials were
conducted in Colorado, while hot weather tests were conducted in
Palm Springs, California and cold weather tests in Corunna,
In June 2003 the AB139 achieved initial ENAC (Italian
Airworthiness) IFR certification with a three screen digital
cockpit. To enhance overall cockpit management, a four-screen
cockpit has been introduced and the AB139 has now been awarded full
IFR certification by ENAC/EASA and the FAA to cover day and night
IFR. The four-screen Honeywell Primus Epic Electronic Flight
Instrumentation System provides decreased pilot workload and
enhances the overall capabilities of the AB139.
The existing Primus Epic architecture has remained the same but
new state-of-the-art Honeywell systems have been added. The initial
standard configuration contained Radio Management Units for tuning
the radio frequencies with no additional capability. In the latest
iteration, two Multifunction Control Display Units (MCDU) with an
integrated Flight Management System (FMS) have replaced these Radio
The AB139 FMS includes a GPS and provides extensive capability
to the flight crew providing multiple tools to develop flight
plans, manage single or multiple missions and tune radio
frequencies. In addition to the FMS, visibility and accessibility
in the cockpit have also been improved by adding an additional 4th
LCD display. Now both the pilot and the co-pilot have an
independent means of interfacing with the aircraft systems and
functions via their own Cursor Control Device (CCD), a simple
joystick used for navigating the screens. With two screens per
crew, failures of a display will be managed with even greater ease.
In the unlikely event of a failure of the Multifunction or Primary
Flight Display, a single composite screen will be shown on the
remaining functioning display with the combined pertinent data from
both screens. Both sides of the cockpit will be capable of this
through swift execution of automatic reversion.
The AB139 is a JAR/FAR 29 certified aircraft with benchmark
performance and a superior cockpit. Certification flying
demonstrated that the AB139 has lower operating costs and higher
productivity than any competitive aircraft in its 5 to 8 tonne
class. These productivity advantages are all achieved while
providing Category "A" (Class 1) performance without payload loss
at maximum take-off weight.
Currently, final assembly of the AB139 is in Italy at Agusta's
Vergiate plant, near Milan. However, a U.S. assembly facility in
Texas will commence in 2005, with the completion and delivery of
the first U.S. aircraft in first quarter 2006. Bell/Agusta Customer
Service Centers (CSC) will be strategically located throughout the
world to provide spare parts, tools and maintenance services.
Customers will be supported with the most effective training
programs available using computer based training, flight simulators
and maintenance training devices.
Currently, Bell/Agusta has an order book of over 80 aircraft
slated for more than 40 customers world-wide. To date, AB139s have
been delivered to Elilario, an Italian helicopter public transport
company; the government of Namibia; and the Aga Khan Development
Network for ferrying personnel and material for construction of
university campuses in Central Asia.