INTERVIEW WITH LEONARDO
Can you tell us how this iconic brand will reinforce Leonardo’s leading position in this market segment?
The launch of the new Agusta VIP brand was intended as a new initiative to reinforce Leonardo’s leading position in the world’s VIP/corporate helicopter market, as it pioneers new advanced and sustainable air mobility solutions in the vertical flight domain. Agusta becomes the brand that embodies the company’s distinctive design, technology and service philosophy and values in the executive transport rotorcraft sphere. Leveraging the heritage of an iconic name embedded in the helicopter industry community, and a symbol of commitment to stay at the forefront of innovation, Agusta is a unique combination of best in class performance, comfort and refined Italian style. Leonardo is committed to providing operators now and into the future unmatched tailored-made solutions. New solutions will entail all new dedicated operational and customer services and information, aircraft interior and layout configurations and bespoke possibilities in the VIP transport sector.
With ‘Agusta’, Leonardo gives its VIP operators a strong brand that they can easily recognise and identify with, a sign that embodies their desire for excellence and quality with a personal touch and distinction, which includes their flight experience. They can be themselves before take-off, during flight and upon arrival at their destination, setting them apart from others. The strength and recognition of the Agusta brand legacy still continues to live on in this particular market segment.
Since the arrival of the popular and iconic A109 fifty years ago, ‘speed and elegance’ have been clear examples of recurring words from operators to define a helicopter and an experience. The significant growth and evolution of the highly successful range of solutions across all civil and public service applications over the last decades led ‘Agusta’ to become synonymous with those characteristics of outstanding performance, aerodynamics, advanced technology and high customisation levels. This is particularly true and persistent for passenger transport roles.
Leonardo is an indisputable leader in the VIP/Corporate helicopter segment, With the largest and most modern models and capabilities range of any other manufacturer. Can you give us a quick overview of Leonardo’s fleet operating in this segment?
With a global fleet of more than 900 helicopters carrying out a range of passenger transport missions including private transport, corporate transport, charter, scheduled services and VVIP/Government transport, Leonardo has also been retaining a leading 45% share of the world’s multi-engine VIP helicopter market over the last decade leveraging key differentiators which have made its dedicated model range the benchmark: top class speed and overall performance, high customization levels, outstanding cabin comfort, latest navigation and mission technology, latest certification and safety standards, a distinguished Italian style. Leonardo’s VIP helicopters operate across the globe and are the leaders in several markets (UK, Brazil, UAE to name a few).
At EBACE this year, Leonardo introduced a new range of interior and services designed for the VIP/Corporate market under the Agusta VIP brand. Can you give us a quick overview of these latest offerings?
Leonardo is now providing an update on latest plans for new options and services dedicated to VIP/corporate helicopter operators under the Agusta brand initiative. These include the Interior Moods layouts, a new integrated maintenance service plan and a dedicated Agusta section in the Leonardo Helicopter Customer Portal. The Interior Moods, initially crated for the AW169, AW139 and AW189 helicopter types, consist of three all new different options – inspired by the names of iconic cities – for interior layouts based on stylish specific colours, materials, seat configurations and on-board options. These are intended to allow customers to select and create their ideal and perfect habitat which can best mirror their personality and meet their expectations: from the sense of warmth, harmony and pureness of ‘Florence’, to the coexistence of opposites in ‘London’ like tradition and innovation, and the energy and passion shown by ‘New York’ and its cosmopolitan cross-fertilization of habits and behaviours. The new AGUSTAforYOU helicopter service plan specifically developed for operators of corporate rotorcraft, is intended to enhance aircraft availability, reduce inventory costs and optimize expenses and covers scheduled and unscheduled maintenance of airframe/avionics components and other items. Types initially supported include AW109 GrandNew, AW169 and AW139 with the plan to extend it to other platforms in the future. Furthermore, on the Leonardo Helicopter Customer Portal, VIP operators will have a dedicated area to verify the progress and status of their helicopter manufacturing and testing, also including images. Overall, these steps are aimed at delivering more distinct answers to meet exclusivity requirements and make the ownership and operations from day 1 a true 360° experience when choosing Agusta.
Leonardo is developing the AW609 TiltRotor. Can you provide us an update on this program and how this revolutionary aircraft may become a game-changer in the VIP/Corporate helicopter market?
The AW609 tiltrotor is one of the most significant technological innovations in the current global aviation landscape, designed and built to uniquely combine the helicopter’s operational versatility (vertical take-off and la ding/hover) and the turboprop aeroplane’s performance (speed, range, altitude) advantages. Leonardo is currently developing configurations for different uses of the AW609 tiltrotor. For passenger transport (up to nine plus pilot and co-pilot), the AW609 can connect the centre of two cities such as Milan and London, in about two hours’ flight time, heralding a real revolution in point-to-point connections in a context of innovative inter-urban mobility. In addition, it makes it possible to reach remote areas and localities that today do not have efficient or constant connections, such as the most isolated small islands. The AW609 programme development has recently moved significantly closer to US FAA certification, after which deliveries to customers will begin. With this, the AW609 will be the world’s first civilian-certified multi-role tiltrotor. The prototypes used in development activities, particularly in the United States and Italy, have clocked over 1,700 flight hours to date. The final assembly line is based at Leonardo’s US plant in Philadelphia, where manufacturing of the production models has already started. The entire training syllabus with advanced flight simulators and technical support services for customers has also opened.