Military Wiki
Two civilian A109s.
Role SAR/utility helicopter
Manufacturer Agusta
First flight 4 August 1971 (1971-08-04)
Introduction 1976
Status Active service In production
Primary users Italian Army
REGA (Swiss Air Rescue)
Royal New Zealand Air Force
Produced 1971-present
Unit cost
US$ 6.3 million
Variants AgustaWestland AW119

A Helisureste Agusta AW109S Grand.

Agusta A109 K2 of the Rega over Mount Pilatus.

The AgustaWestland AW109 is a light-weight, twin-engine, eight-seat multi-purpose helicopter built by the Anglo-Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland. First flown as the Agusta A109 in 1971, the craft has been used in light transport, medevac, search-and-rescue, and military roles.

Design and development

In the late 1960s, Agusta designed the A109 as a single-engine commercial helicopter. It was soon realised that a twin-engine design was needed and it was re-designed in 1969 with two Allison 250-C14 turboshaft engines. A projected military version (the A109B) was not developed and the company concentrated on the eight-seat A109C version.[1] The first of three prototypes made its maiden flight on 4 August 1971.[2] A protracted development then followed and the first production aircraft was not completed until April 1975. Delivery of production machines started in early 1976. The aircraft soon became a success and began to be used for roles other than as a light transport including as an air ambulance and search-and-rescue. In 1975, Agusta returned again to the possibility of a military version and trials were carried out between 1976 and 1977 with five A109As fitted with Hughes Aircraft TOW missiles. Two military versions were then developed, one for light attack or close support and another for naval operations.

Fuselages of A109 are made by PZL-Świdnik. In June 2006 the 500th fuselage was delivered by this manufacturer, marking 10 years of co-operation between the two companies.[3]

The sale of the Agusta A109 to the Belgian armed forces in 1988 gave rise to a bribery scandal when it was alleged the company had given the Belgian Socialist Party over 50 million Belgian francs to secure the sale. This scandal led to the resignation and conviction of NATO Secretary General Willy Claes.

The Agusta A109 was renamed the AW109 following the July 2000 merger of Finmeccanica S.p.A. and GKN plc's respective helicopter subsidiaries Agusta and Westland Helicopters to form AgustaWestland.

In August 2008, Scott Kasprowicz and Steve Sheik broke the round-the-world speed record using a factory-standard AgustaWestland Grand, with a time of 11 days, 7 hours and 2 minutes. The A109S Grand is also the fastest helicopter from New York to Los Angeles.[4][5]

In July 2013, the South African Air Force reported that 18 AW109s had effectively been grounded due to lack of money to keep them flying. They were occasionally activated but did not fly. The SAAF cited a slash in helicopter funds as the reason, with only 71 flight hours allocated to an operational fleet of about 20 AW109s. The helicopters may be reduced to flying VIPs rather than being operationally capable. South Africa is considering selling a number of AW109s, and may cease helicopter operations.[6]


Agusta A109 of the Italian police.

Dyfed-Powys Police Air Support Unit Helicopter (X-Ray 99) Demonstration at police HQ Open Day 2008.

The first production model, powered by two Allison Model 250-C20 turboshaft engines. It made its first flight on 4 August 1971. Initially, the A109 was marketed under the name of "Hirundo" (Latin for the swallow), but this was dropped within a few years.
Military version for the Italian Army.
A109A Mk.II
Upgraded civilian version of the A109A.
Aeromedical evacuation version based on A109A Mk.II with extra wide cabin and access doors hinged top and bottom, rather than to one side
Unbuilt military version.
Eight-seat civil version, powered by two Allison Model 250-C20R-1 turboshaft engines.
Aeromedical evacuation version based on A109C with extra-wide cabin and access doors hinged top and bottom, rather than to one side
One prototype only
A109E Power
Upgraded civilian version, initially powered by two Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 engines. Later the manufacturer introduced an option for two Pratt & Whitney PW206C engines to be used – both versions remain known as the A109E Power
A109E Power Elite
stretched cabin version of A109E Power. This variant, which is operated by the RAF, has a glass cockpit with two complete sets of pilot instruments and navigation systems, including a three-axis autopilot, an auto-coupled Instrument Landing System and GPS. There is also a Moving Map Display, weather radar and a Traffic Alerting System.[7]
Military LUH "Light Utility Helicopter" variant based on the A109E Power. Operators include South African Air Force, Nigerian Air Force as well as Sweden, New Zealand and Malaysia
Eight A109E Power aircraft were used by the United States Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron Jacksonville (HITRON Jacksonville) as short-range armed interdiction helicopters from 2000 until 2008, when they were replaced with MH-65C Dolphins.[8] Agusta designated these armed interdiction aircraft as "Mako" until the U. S. Coast Guard officially named it the MH-68A Stingray in 2003. The HITRON configuration included a rescue hoist, emergency floats, FLIR, Spectrolab NightSun search light, a 7.62mm M240D machine gun and a Barrett M107 semi-automatic .50 caliber sniper rifle with laser sight.[9]
Military version.
High-altitude and high-temperature operations with fixed wheels rather than the retractable wheels of most A109 variants. Typically used by police, search and rescue, and air ambulance operators.
Military version.
A109 km
Military version for high altitude and high temperature operations.
Naval version.
Standard military version.
Version for Guardia di Finanza, the Italian Finance Guard
Version created for the Belgian Army.
AW109S Grand
Lengthened cabin-upgraded civilian version with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207 engines and lengthened main rotor blades with different tip design to the Power version.
AW109 Grand New
single IFR, TAWS and EVS, especially for EMS.
Changhe CA109
Chinese version of A109, manufactured by Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation in Jingdezhen under license.[10]


Civilian and Government Operators

The Agusta A109E Power operated by CareFlight International Air Ambulance.

Spanish Agusta 109E Power used by the Community of Madrid's medical services.

The AW109 is flown by a range of operators including private companies, military services, emergency services and air charter companies.

Military operators

Belgian Air Component A109BA anti-tank variant.

An RNZAF A109 in 2012.

South African Air Force AW109LUH.

Helinet Agusta A-109 over Los Angeles, California.

A109E of the Empire Test Pilots' School

  • Bulgarian Border Police[14]
  • Carabineros de Chile[15]
  • State Border Guard[21]
 New Zealand
 South Africa
 United Kingdom

Former Military operators

 United Kingdom

A U.S. Coast Guard MH-68A Stingray.

United States


  • 2009 (2009) – South African Air Force A109 crashed into Woodstock Dam in the Drakensberg, due to pilot error, killing all three on board.[34]
  • 16 January 2013 (2013-01-16) – Vauxhall helicopter crash. At approximately 08:00 GMT an Agusta AW109 on charter to Rotormotion[35] clipped a construction crane attached to the St George Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, London, then crashed to the ground and burst into flames, killing the pilot and a person on the ground. The helicopter was completely destroyed and crane was also seriously damaged.[36]
  • At around 1900 GMT on 30 March 2013, a South African Air Force A109 crashed while on anti-poaching patrol in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. All five SANDF members aboard were killed.[37]


Agusta A109 Power


Data from[38] [39]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 or 2 pilots
  • Capacity: 7/6 passengers
  • Length: 42 ft 9 in (13.04 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 36 ft 2 in (11.00 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 6 in (3.50 m)
  • Empty weight: 3,505 lb (1,590kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 6,283 lb (2,850 kg–3,000 kg depending on version)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada 206C or Turbomeca Arrius 2K1 turboshafts, 567 hp or 571 hp (423 kW or 425 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 177 mph (154 knots, 285 km/h)
  • Ferry range: 599 mi(503 NM, 932 km)
  • Service ceiling: 19,600 ft (5,974 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,930 ft/min (9.8 m/s)


(Agusta A109 LUH only)

  • Guns: possibilities include 12.7 mm machine gun (250 rounds) in pod, pintle mounted 7.62 mm machine gun, door gunner post 12.7 mm machine gun.
  • Missiles: possibilities include 2 × TOW missile launchers (2 or 4 missiles each), unguided rockets in pods (2.75 in or 81 mm rockets with 7 or 12 tubes per pod), rocket/machine gun pod (70 mm × 3 rockets and 12.7 mm machine gun with 200 rounds).

See also



  1. Air International October 1978, pp. 160–161.
  2. Air International October 1978, p.161.
  3. "PZL-Świdnik deliver 500th airframe to AgustaWestland". PZL-Świdnik SA. Archived from the original on 2006-09-07. 
  4. "History of Rotorcraft World Records, List of records established by the 'A109S Grand'". Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). Archived from the original on 2010-07-29. 
  5. "AgustaWestland news archive, August 2008". 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  6. South African airforce in crisis -, 24 July 2013
  7. "RAF – Agusta A 109 E". 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-09-17. 
  8. MCH: Project Description, U.S. Coast Guard Short Range Recovery (SRR) Helicopter.
  9. Crawford, Steve (2003). Twenty-first century military helicopters: today's fighting gunships. St. Paul, MN.: MBI Publishing Company. p. 85. ISBN 0-7603-1504-3. 
  10. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 14 October 2013. p. 60. 
  11. "Les nouveaux hélicoptères de la Gendarmerie Nationale prennent leur envol". Copyright (c) Secret Difa3. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 "World Air Forces 2013". Flightglobal Insight. 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  13. "Agusta 109 in Argentine military service". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  14. "Bulgarian Border Police Takes Delivery Of Its First AW109 Power". Aviation News. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  15. "Carabineros de Chile Expand Their AW109 Power Fleet". Aviation News. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  16. "Ccarabinieri A 109E". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  17. "Carabinieri - AgustaWestland AW-109N". Demand media. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  18. "Guardia di Finanza 'A109Nexus". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  19. "AW 109 Vigili del Fuoco". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  20. "ELICOTTERI POLIZIA VENEZIA". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  21. "AgustaWestland AW109 Power Helicopters Ordered By Ministry Of The Interior Of Latvia Enter Service". Aviation News. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  22. "Peruvian_army_land_ground_forces_military_equipment". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  25. "Slovenia Announce The Procurement Of One A109 Power Helicopter". AgustaWestland. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  26. "SLOVENIAN POLICE HELICOPTER UNIT". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  27. "Australian Navy retires the A109". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  28. años 90&plan=1 "FAP Historia Los Años 90 (1990-1999)". años 90&plan=1. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  29. Barrie Flight International 10–16 September 1997, p. 62.
  30. "8 Flight Army Air Corps". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  31. "MH-68A Stingray / Agusta A109E". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  32. "Venezuela Army Aviation". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  33. "Ejercito de Venezuela Agusta A109 Hirundo". Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  34. "Army names chopper dead". Times LIVE. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2 April 2013. 
  35. "London helicopter crash: Two die in Vauxhall crane accident". BBC Online. 2013-01-16. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  36. Two die in helicopter crane crash in Vauxhall, London
  37. - BBC News, retrieved 2013-03-31.
  38. AgustaWestland A109 Power product page
  39. AgustaWestland A109 LUH product page


  • "The A-109A – Agusta's Pace-Setter". Air International, October 1978, Vol. 15 No. 4. pp. 159–166, 198.
  • Barrie, Douglas. "Air Forces of the World". Flight International, 10–16 September 1997, Vol. 152 No. 4591. pp. 35–71.
  • Hoyle, Craig. "World Air Forces Directory". Flight International, 13–19 December 2011, Vol. 180 No. 5321. pp. 26–52.

External links

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