About the Leonardo GrandNew
The Leonardo AW109SP GrandNew helicopter is operated by No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron as a complement to the BAe 146 in the Command Support Air Transport role. It can be flown by a single pilot in all weather conditions, by day or night, providing site-to-site transportation for senior military commanders and government ministers in the UK and Europe. Its ability to operate into heliports or even locations with no landing facilities at all, provides the ultimate in CSAT availability and flexibility.
With its four-axis digital duplex autopilot and advanced avionics suite, the GrandNew provides its pilots with enhanced situational awareness and flight management capabilities compared to the A109E that it replaced, increasing safety and overall efficiency.
It achieves its maximum endurance of two hours 40 minutes with up to six Leonardo AW109SP passengers on board, while its twin-engined powerplant expands pilots’ options when planning routes over built-up areas, as well as offering wide safety margins for flying in and out of confined landing sites.
Italy’s Agusta first flew an A109 prototype on August 4, 1971 and delivered the A109A first production version of the light utility machine from 1976. Deliveries of the upgraded A109A Mk II began in September 1981, with the ultimate civilian version of the early series emerging as the A109C in 1989.
Meanwhile, the type had also found considerable favour with military operators, continuous development resulting in the A109K, equipped for military and para-military operations, including mountain rescue.
The civilian and military developments merged into a single basic airframe in the A109 Power, launched in 1993. Known as the A109E Power, the basic civilian model in the new range became available in 1996.
On April 1, 2006, AgustaWestland, formed through the merger of Agusta and the UK’s Westland in 2000, was granted a contract to provide three A109E helicopters to replace a similar number of Squirrels in 32(TR) Sqn service. The Power served for a decade, although the fleet was reduced to two and then just one aircraft before its withdrawal in favour of the AW109SP GrandNew.
The GrandNew represents the latest line of A109 development under the AgustaWestland name. It is now supplied by Leonardo, since the AgustaWestland company was absorbed into a single entity by its Finmeccanica owner in April 2016, the latter simultaneously changing its name to Leonardo.
Header image by Cpl Ben Tritta
Leonardo AW109SP GrandNew:
- Powerplant: two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207C turboshafts each rated at 572shp maximum continuous power
- Length overall: 42ft 6in (12.96m)
- Height overall: 11ft 2in (3.39m) Main rotor diameter 35ft 6in (10.83m)
- Maximum take-off weight: 7,000lb (3,175kg)
- Maximum cruising speed: 156kt (289km/h)
- Maximum range: 464nm (859km)
- Hovering ceiling out of ground effect: 10,000ft
- Accommodation: up to six passengers