ROME, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- AgustaWestland's first production medium-lift helicopter for long range offshore transport and search-and-rescue missions has conducted its maiden flight.
Development of the SW189 was announced by the company in 2011. It has a cruise speed of 166–173 mph and a range of 230 miles.
The aircraft flown at a company facility in Italy will be delivered by the end of this year to Bristow Helicopters Ltd. of Britain.
"Completing the very first AW189, which will enter operational service, is a tremendous program achievement to AgustaWestland and to our customer," said Daniele Romiti, AgustaWestland's chief executive officer. "With this event, we've brought to life the first and only new generation production aircraft in its category with an extremely reduced time to market, meeting the most stringent requirements set by the relevant authorities and by the market.
"With many orders by a number of major customers already logged to date, we're confident that this will be just the first of hundreds of AW189s to be delivered in the coming years."
AgustaWestland said pre-production models of the aircraft have been used for development of offshore and search-and-rescue configurations and mission kits.
In addition to Bristow Helicopters, clients in Azerbaijan, Malaysia and Qatar have ordered the aircraft.