Showing posts with label Leonardo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leonardo. Show all posts

06 September, 2023

Leicester City Football Club helicopter disaster...... an accident just waiting to happen. AAIB Report published.

It was nearly 7:40 in the evening of 27th October 2018 when a Leonardo AW169 helicopter lifted off from the pitch at the King Power Stadium, the home of Leicester City Football Club. The helicopter, registration G-VSKP was made in July 2016 and was carrying five people.  The helicopter moved forward and started to climb up and out of the football stadium on a rearward flight path.

As the helicopter passed around 250 feet, the 53-year-old experienced pilot transitioned to forward flight, pitching the nose down and the landing gear retracted.  The helicopter started to turn right and then more so, despite the pilot applying immediate corrective inputs.  The blue and white helicopter reached a height of around 430 feet ft before descending with a high rotation rate and the pilot tried to recover normal flight. 

The helicopter struck the ground on a stepped concrete surface, coming to rest on its left side. The impact with the ground damaged the lower fuselage and the helicopter’s fuel tanks which caused a big fuel leak. This fuel ignited shortly after the helicopter came to rest and an intense post-impact fire rapidly engulfed the fuselage.  All five people in the helicopter perished in the disaster.  

The full Air Accidents Investigation Branch report into the accident has now been published and makes stark reading for the helicopter manufacturer. The report indicates that those onboard experienced a deceleration force exceeding 30 g when the helicopter hit the ground and all the occupants suffered significant impact injuries; for one person, these were likely to have been fatal.

First responders arrived at the accident site within one minute of the helicopter striking the ground and they attempted to gain access to the cockpit and cabin. However, as the helicopter was on its side, the strength of the cockpit windscreen combined with the rapid increase in the power of the fire, they were unable to get in.  The helicopter was rapidly engulfed by fire and the occupants who survived the initial impact, the AAIB report says, died from inhaling the products of combustion.

One of the conclusions of the investigation found that in simulator trials confirmed to the investigation that the loss of yaw control was irrecoverable.

This crash tragically took the lives of all five on board: the then Leicester City owner and Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, pilots Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz, as well as Kaveporn Punpare and Nusara Suknamai. 

The AAIB was able to identify the source of the catastrophic failure and crash which was that a critical duplex bearing, which connected the control shaft running along the length of the tail to the rotor blades, seized. This seizure of the bearing was the result of fatigue, cracking, pitting, shearing, friction, grease degradation and heat generation. 

The AAIB report lists a number of causal factors for this crash, including:

Seizure of the tail rotor duplex bearing initiated a sequence of failures in the tail rotor pitch control mechanism which culminated in the unrecoverable loss of control of the tail rotor blade pitch angle and the blades moving to their physical limit of travel.

The unopposed main rotor torque couple and negative tail rotor blade pitch angle resulted in an increasing rate of rotation of the helicopter in yaw, which induced pitch and roll deviations and made effective control of the helicopter’s flightpath impossible.

The tail rotor duplex bearing likely experienced a combination of dynamic axial and bending moment loads which generated internal contact pressures sufficient to result in lubrication breakdown and the balls sliding across the race surface. This caused premature, surface initiated rolling contact fatigue damage to accumulate until the bearing seized.

There are a number of issues arising from the report involving the manufacturer Leonardo, including the inactions listed below, leading to the bearing seizure and tragic crash: 

Not sharing critical flight test results with the company which made the duplex bearing, in order to confirm that the bearing that they had chosen was actually suitable for use in the tail rotor. Had Leonardo shared the results, the bearing may not have been chosen. 

Not requiring the routine inspection of critical parts removed from service (such as the duplex bearing) to confirm that they were in the condition that they expected them to be in based on their design. Had Leonardo done so, they would have found that the bearings were more damaged than expected and ought to have concluded that they needed to change their original design. 

Not fully considering possible risk reduction and mitigation measures for the duplex bearing – which had been identified as a critical component by Leonardo during the design phase. It was recognised by Leonardo, the report notes, that if the bearing failed it could lead to the death of multiple occupants onboard. Had they included one of those mitigation measures, simply changing the thread direction of a key component, it is likely that the severity of the accident would have been reduced.  

Former Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha purchased what he believed to be a state-of-the-art helicopter. Leonardo’s non-performance of key measures, raises serious questions about the safety of the company’s aircraft. 

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, who lost his father, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, commented: "I am deeply saddened by the course of events. Almost five years after my father’s passing, this report provides concerning evidence against Leonardo. My father trusted that he had bought a safe helicopter from a world-renowned manufacturer. Had he known what we know now he would never have risked his life in this machine. The pain this causes me and my family is immeasurable and as a family, we continue to struggle every day with our grief at the loss of my father. He was a great inspiration to me personally and we all loved him very much.” 

The families of three of those lost in the crash – Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, Eric Swaffer, and Izabela Lechowicz – have retained leading litigation specialists’ Stewarts. The family of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha are now considering their legal recourse against Leonardo. Litigation has already been commenced in Italy on behalf of the families of Eric and Izabela.   

Eric and Izabela were life partners and soulmates. Both were recognised and highly respected throughout the global aviation industry for their exemplary piloting skills. Both were also qualified instructors and examiners on a range of aircraft. Eric spent most of his career lobbying and advising on matters of safety in the rotary wing industry.  

The report confirmed there was nothing either Eric or Izabela could have done to prevent this disaster, it stresses that effective control of the aircraft was impossible following the loss of the tail rotor. For the families, it has been important for the memories of Izabela and particularly Eric, who was piloting the helicopter, to have been cleared of any possible implication in the accident. 

Deborah Sutton, mother of Eric Swaffer said:  "This of course is every mother’s worst nightmare and time is not healing. Eric and Izabela were an inseparable couple, devoted to each other and to their flying. Without them there is an enormous hole in our lives. I think of them daily and miss them more than I can say.” 

Peter Neenan, a partner in the aviation team at Stewarts, said:   “This report is a frightening tale of missed opportunities.  

The report confirms that the helicopter manufacturer, Leonardo, did not accurately model the forces affecting the helicopter during their design, did not provide the right information to the bearing manufacturer, did not then measure the forces actually affecting the helicopter, did not involve the bearing manufacturer to validate their assumptions despite not having the software needed to model the forces on the bearing, did not implement a routine inspection requirement for these bearings to identify and replace them during their degeneration prior to any risk of seizure and did not require discarded bearings to be examined to see whether their design assumptions were valid.  

This was all done in circumstances where Leonardo had recognised that the duplex bearing was a critical component and that the failure of this component could be catastrophic for the helicopter and likely to result in the death of those onboard. 

Nevertheless, and despite that concerning warning, they then also did not implement sufficient mitigation measures within the wider tail rotor control system to avoid a catastrophic loss of control of the helicopter from such a failure. Some of those measures would have been as simple as changing the thread direction on component parts, a measure that they had already implemented for an earlier variant of this helicopter, the AW139."  


05 July, 2023

Advanced £870 million radar contract could sustain 600 UK jobs...

An £870 million five-year contract has been awarded to upgrade radar capabilities on the RAF Typhoon, fitting one of the world’s most advanced radars.

The UK government has confirmed that an £870 million five-year contract has been awarded to BAE Systems and Leonardo UK to upgrade radar capabilities on the RAF Typhoon, fitting the fighter jets with one of the world’s most advanced radars – the European Common Radar System (ECRS) Mk2.

Following last year’s announcement at the 2022 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), in which Defence committed to a £2.35 billion investment to several upgrades for Typhoon, this is the first contract allocated from that major and complex investment and will see the completion of the development and integration of the ECRS Mk2.

The state-of-the-art radar will transform the Typhoon’s control of the air, bringing a world-leading electronic warfare capability which will allow the aircraft to simultaneously detect, identify, and track multiple targets in the air and on the ground. ECRS Mk2 will be integrated onto RAF Typhoon Tranche 3 aircraft and offered to other nations that operate the aircraft, boosting UK defence exports.

23 June, 2023

Airbus and Leonardo sign MoU to jointly approach future integrated training systems market

Air power new frontiers and emerging trends are accelerating the development of new capabilities and technologies for fighter pilot training.

Airbus and Leonardo have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly promote integrated training systems and study the future solutions to tackle Air Dominance challenges.

Under this collaboration, both companies will jointly address and pursue business opportunities for the provision of advanced training systems leveraging on M-346 proven experience, thanks to over 100,000 flight hours performed worldwide by the aircraft. Airbus and Leonardo will also explore deepening ties and industrial cooperation to tackle future military pilot training domains. All based on cooperation and synergies on specific platforms and programs, also in the framework of a broader European and International collaboration.

‘A strong, innovative and competitive defence industry is a prerequisite for strengthening the European defence environment and for achieving the desired “strategic autonomy”’, said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. ‘Leonardo is globally recognized as a key player in the military pilot training business segment and we believe our synergies could give the right answer to our customer requirements’.

14 June, 2023

Azerbaijan Air Force signs deal for Leonardo's C-27J Spartan. aircraft

A new commercial collaboration between Italy and Azerbaijan has been strengthened by the signing of the contract from Leonardo and the  Azerbaijan Air Force for the supply of the C-27J Spartan. 

Initially linked to the energy sectors, the collaboration between Italy and Azerbaijan is now also extended to defence industry products thanks to the valuable contribution provided by the Italian Ministry of Defence working group. The programme for the purchase of the C-27J from Leonardo, a tactical transport aircraft with many years of proven experience in the most challenging operational scenarios, was finalized through a technical round table between the Italian Ministry of Defence and its Azeri counterpart. The agreement is part of the extensive modernisation programme of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, which are increasingly looking to the products of Italian industry.

Leonardo’s C-27J Spartan is an aircraft capable of executing a vast range of defence and civil protection missions in some of the most challenging geographic, environmental and operating conditions. 

Extensive experience gained in operations with different air forces worldwide makes it the ideal aircraft for military transport missions, airdrops of paratroopers and materials, ‘last mile’ tactical troop support, special forces operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

04 July, 2022

Poland to buy 32 Leonardo helicopters

The Polish defence minister confirmed last week the country had agreed to purchase 32 AW149 helicopters from the Italian manufacturer Leonardo in a deal said to be worth US$1.83 billion.  

Mariusz Blaszczak said: "The contract... concerns 32 AW149 helicopters, so two squadrons and the first helicopters will go to the Polish army next year," and will be completed by 2029. 

A major part of the deal agreement sees the helicopters being built by Leonardo's Polish unit PZL Swidnik, with the whole deal encompassing logistics, training and simulator packages.  

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Poland, like many other nations in the region are rapidly increasing and modernising their air forces and military infrastructure. Poland is understood to be spending 3.4% of its GDP on defence this year and next as it seeks to completely modernise. 

According to the authorities, these new helicopters will be used for various functions including rapid troop deployment, air support, equipment transportation and casualty evacuation. In addition, in peacetime, the aircraft would also be used for search and rescue missions.

Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo said:  "We are proud to contribute to the constant increase of the security of the Polish nation, and to strengthen the industrial capabilities which are fundamental to the country's resilience and sovereignty,"

Flexible and effective
The AW149 blends performance, lower life-cycle costs, and day/night all-weather capability in a single platform. The large, rapidly reconfigurable cabin can accommodate a wide range of role equipment and weapon systems to enhance operational effectiveness and survivability in the battlespace.

Optimised for multiple missions
The AW149 is designed for a multitude of missions such as troop transport; re-supply/external load lift; medical and casualty evacuation; Search and Rescue (SAR) and Combat Search and Rescue; special forces operations; close air support/armed escort; Command and Control C2); and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).

Outstanding technology
The advanced open architecture mission system enables the quick and effective integration of mission-specific and customer-specific equipment, avionics, weapons and defence systems. The helicopter is day/night capable with a single pilot Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible, low workload glass cockpit.

Built-in safety and survivability
The AW149 ensures unparalleled crew safety. Contributing to its superior battle survivability are high levels of ballistic tolerance, crashworthy fuselage and seats, heavy duty landing gear, self-sealing fuel tanks, a fully integrated defensive aids suite along with additional armour protection.

Maximum cabin flexibility
The spacious, unobstructed cabin and large sliding doors on both sides enable the rapid transport of heavily laden troops and the efficient recovery of stretchers on the ground or in flight, while allowing simultaneous cover fire from window-mounted machine guns. A large equipment stowage area for stretchers and medical kit can be accessed optionally from the cabin.

04 August, 2021

A109 helicopter’s maiden flight anniversary marks 50 years of leadership in high performance, design, and mission versatility

A109’s maiden flight paved the path for the company’s distinguished technical and performance features in the multirole and dual-use helicopter domain
Unmatched speed, handling quality, efficient aerodynamics and versatility are among the most acclaimed characteristics of Leonardo’s light twin types for civil and government operators
Over 1,600 helicopters in the light twin class have been sold over the last five decades to customers in more than 50 nations across all continents for the widest range of roles
Leonardo celebrates today the 50th anniversary of its A109 helicopter, an iconic product which represented a revolution in the life of the company. The type enabled Italy to become one of the world’s only nations with an OEM capable of autonomous design, development, manufacturing of helicopters, which became highly successful in both national and export markets.

Best-in-class performance and speed, a sleek design for superior aerodynamics, in-house modern main gear box and transmission design and development, mission versatility and high level of customisation. All of these characteristics enabled winning, distinguished features and core capabilities at Leonardo and played a significant part to its growing multirole and dual-use helicopter range over the coming decades, and this started with the maiden flight of the Agusta A109 on 4th August 1971.

The project request originated from the designer Bruno Lovera to the-then top management and a A109 prototype was taken to the skies by pilot Ottorino Lancia for the first time in the summer of 1971. The new model featured a four-blade articulated main rotor, a semi-rigid two-blade tail rotor and retractable landing gear, delivering unique handling and overall flying qualities. The 2.4 tonne 8-seat type was certified both in Italy and US four years later and entered the market in 1976. The new model also allowed the company to enter into the highly competitive US market, where it leveraged the establishment of a logistics centre in Philadelphia set to become, over the following decades, home to Leonardo’s helicopter industrial presence in the US for comprehensive rotorcraft manufacturing, support and training services.

Starting in the mid-1970s, early success led to a continued and increased presence of the company in the challenging light twin segment market on a global scale with a number of versions and newly certified types for the widest array of civil, public service and military applications. New 3 tonne class models include the popular Power and Grand as well as the more recent GrandNew and Trekker aircraft, not to mention more customised military and government variants such as
the LUH and Nexus. With the latest designs, Leonardo introduced modern digital avionics, spacious cabins, enhanced dynamics, new engines and all main undercarriage options reaching a total number of over 1,600 light twin helicopters sold in 50 years to customers in over 50 countries across all continents for operations in all-weather/environmental conditions, over land and sea.

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21 July, 2021

Leonardo’s AW101 for the Polish Navy flies for the first time

Leonardo celebrates an industrial engineering collaboration through the manufacturing efforts of its sites in Italy, the UK, and Poland on the Polish Navy’s AW101
Leonardo is preparing four AW101 helicopters for the Polish Ministry of National Defence, the helicopter will undertake ASW and CSAR missions
The first flight tested the main airframe, control system, and engine handling
Leonardo has confirmed that the Polish Navy’s first AW101 (ZR285) achieved its first flight yesterday at the Company’s site in Yeovil. The flight demonstrated functional checks of the main airframe systems as well as the control system, and engine-handling checks were taken throughout to monitor the speed range of the aircraft. The flight envelope will now be opened further with testing exploring the bespoke mission equipment fitted to the aircraft.

This achievement is indicative of an integrated Leonardo team spanning the United Kingdom, Poland, and Italy. It highlights the strength in collaboration between Leonardo and the Company’s main industrial presence in Poland, PZL-Świdnik which acts as the prime contractor, as all teams work closely across the three nations to ensure this high-end capability for the Polish Ministry of National Defence.

In April 2019, the company announced it would supply four AW101s and a comprehensive integrated logistics and training package to the Polish Ministry of National Defence. The aircraft will significantly enhance the Polish Navy’s helicopter capability. 

28 June, 2021

Leonardo delivers HH-139B helicopter to the Italian Air Force

Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini and Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Alberto Rosso attended the acceptance ceremony of an Italian Air Force HH-139B helicopter during an official visit to Leonardo’s helicopter facility in Vergiate (Italy). Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo General Manager Lucio Valerio Cioffi, and Leonardo Helicopters’ MD Gian Piero Cutillo were also in attendance. During the visit to the facility, the Authorities were shown the Company’s industrial capabilities, products and advanced technologies, which are fully representative of Leonardo’s leadership in the vertical flight domain and preserve in-country strategic technological capabilities. 

The HH-139B is a dedicated Air Force variant of the AW139 type. The aircraft will be used for a wide range of missions including SAR – Search and Rescue, fire-fighting, Slow Mover Interceptor. 

Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini said: ““National sovereignty, from a military and technological point of view, is preserved today also thanks to this level of excellence and to the synergies among institutions, Defence and industry. Italy has prime industrial capabilities and Leonardo symbolises a nation, which can leverage a top world-class Aerospace, Defence and Security industry.”  

Leonardo breaks ground on advanced new helicopters logistics hub in South West England

Leonardo with logistics partner Kuehne+Nagel sign ten-year logistics contract as part of a collaborative project with Graftongate, to deliver a new c.£30 million single-site logistics facility at Leonardo’s helicopter site in Yeovil, UK 
The site’s development will begin in August this year and is anticipated to be fully operational in 2023 
The single-site logistics facility will help support Leonardo Helicopters’ global fleet through the warehousing of components and tooling in a state-of-the-art facility, which has sustainability at its core

Leonardo announced last week that building work will shortly commence on a new c.£30 million single-site logistics facility at Leonardo’s helicopter site in Yeovil. The ground-breaking facility, spanning an area of nearly 20,000m2, the equivalent of 2.7 football pitches, is scheduled to be completed in Q4 2022. The project sees the consolidation of eight existing warehouses into one all-encompassing logistics hub. 

This high-tech facility means a reduction in operating costs, by having all logistics under one roof, and maximises the potential of helicopter component logistics. The new facility, with its high-end technologies, is heavily focussed on sustainability. It will be equipped with rainwater harvesting tanks for brown water services, full LED lighting will be employed throughout the facility, a heat recovery system will be used in the main warehouse, which will be complemented by a modern office temperature control system. In addition, there will be a bank of electrical vehicle charging points.

03 April, 2021

Leonardo awarded warning system contract at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to reduce risk of runway incursions

    The U.S. airport will deploy Leonardo’s AeroBOSS™ Runway Incursion Warning System as part of continuing efforts to ensure the highest levels of safety on its runways. It will create the world’s largest runway incursion warning system at a single airport
    AeroBOSS™ will provide real-time situational awareness, monitoring and alerting through an integrated software suite
    Leonardo is committed to supporting and protecting people and communities via its latest-generation technologies, including those in airport management, in line with its “Be Tomorrow – Leonardo 2030” strategic plan

Leonardo, through its US subsidiary Selex ES Inc., will provide Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport with its AeroBOSS Runway Incursion Warning System (RIWS), part of the company’s portfolio of airport surface management systems, surveillance, enroute navigation and precision approach and landing systems. The AeroBOSS RIWS can alert drivers of vehicles to any potential hazards before they enter the runway area. By doing so, the technology will help prevent runway incursions, enhance coordination between ground vehicles and improve overall safety.

The contract includes the supply of hardware and software as well as the integration of RIWS technology onto 500 vehicles.

15 March, 2021

AW109 Trekker enters the Indonesian helicopter market

    The delivery of an AW109 Trekker to FlyKomala grows the presence of Leonardo’s light twins in Indonesia adding to the AW109 Grand and GrandNew models 


    FlyKomala will use its new aircraft for a wide range of missions including passenger transport, utility transport, disaster relief, and emergency support duties 


    Leonardo’s helicopter fleet in Indonesia counts almost 20 aircrafts to date for corporate, SAR, and utility transport missions

Leonardo announced the delivery of an AW109 Trekker light twin to FlyKomala of Indonesia, marking the entrance of the type into the country’s helicopter market. The aircraft will be used by the operator to carry out a range of missions including passenger transport, utility transport, disaster relief, and emergency support duties. FlyKomala will benefit from best in class performance and payload, large cabin space, a rugged airframe and modern avionics to enhance mission effectiveness and safety in the demanding environmental and weather conditions of the country.  

This latest delivery grows the success of Leonardo’s light twin types in Indonesia adding to the AW109 Grand and GrandNew models. Leonardo’s civil helicopter fleet in Indonesia counts almost 20 aircraft of various types for corporate, SAR, and utility transport tasks. Asia has proven to be one of the most important regions for the AW109 Trekker, chosen in various countries for several applications including EMS, utility, and law enforcement tasks. 

09 November, 2020

US EMS operator Life Link III grows its fleet of helicopters to 14 aircraft

Two more helicopters ordered by this operator and the order also marks the entry of the AW109 Trekker in the US for EMS and the growing success of the AW169 in this market

The helicopters will conduct vital air medical transport missions across Minnesota and Wisconsin in the United States and will be delivered in 2021

The AW169 and AW109 Trekker meet the most stringent safety standards and are configured to support Life Link III crews undertake in-flight critical care and transport patients


Leonardo announced that Life Link III, an EMS operator in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the United States, has signed a contract for an AW169 and an AW109 Trekker for air medical transport missions. The helicopters will ensure in-flight critical care and transport patients across the upper-Midwest of the country and delivery is anticipated to take place in the fourth quarter of 2021. This order marks the entry of the AW109 Trekker into the US for EMS applications and further grows the success of the AW169 in this market.

The AW169 features a spacious 222 cubic ft. cabin and Life Link III will have a FAA certified EMS interior which provides 360-degree patient access essential for critical care. The helicopter can travel up to 440 nautical miles, with a top speed of 160 knots and it can climb to 14,500 feet.

21 August, 2020

Leonardo strengthens helicopter support services in South Africa

Expanding the level of customer service to allow greater mission effectiveness and safety

The new service centre demonstrates Leonardo’s long-term commitment to the region and its customers, improving support to a fleet of over 120 helicopters mainly operating in the Sub-Saharan African civil market

Leonardo is strengthening the level of support and maintenance services offered to its customer base in South Africa with a new service centre following the recent acquisition of Precision Aviation Services (Pty) Ltd. This is located at Wonderboom Airport – Pretoria and comprises 2275 m2 of floor space, 450 m2 of workshop and store, and an equivalent amount of office space.

The site had been operating as an Authorized Service Centre for Leonardo’s helicopters in the country over the last 25 years and is the first Leonardo Excellent Service Centre in the Continent. ‘Excellent’ ranking is assigned to selected Service Centres focused on maintaining third party fleets and having the largest scope of service capabilities, all while guaranteeing the continued achievement of Leonardo’s customers stringent expectations and considering specific market requirements. The first area of further enhancement implemented by Leonardo compared to previous services will be the spare parts availability which will be further expanded.