Leonardo developing skids for AW169

Leonardo is test flying a prototype AW169 equipped with skids in preparation for the launch of a kit that will be available for both military and commercial markets.

The AW169 is to receive skids as part of a certified kit. Marco Bianchi Photo
The AW169 is to receive skids as part of a certified kit. Marco Bianchi Photo
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The prototype aircraft was pictured during test flights equipped with the skids as well as an unsual adaptation to its horizontal stabilizer, with the vertical fins at either end curving inwards.

“Skids provide a further option for the global market leveraging the outstanding versatility by design and growth potential of the AW169,” said a Leonardo spokesperson in an emailed response for comment.

“The addition of skids to the available customized options of the AW169 is intended to meet market needs in both the military and public service domains.”

The skids will provide a third landing gear option for AW169 operators, following existing retractable wheeled landing gear, and fixed wheeled landing gear.

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They will be offered as a certified kit for military and commercial customers. Skid-configured AW169s have already been ordered for military and homeland security duties in Italy, the spokesperson added. The Italian Army’s AW169 LUH multirole helicopter will have skids, they confirmed.

The Italian LUHs are expected to be delivered in 2023, The spokesperson said other operators have also asked for skids, and the kit may be available earlier than that.

At HAI Heli-Expo 2014, Leonardo unveiled the AW109 Trekker, which added skids to the AW109’s airframe. Certified in Europe in 2017, the adaptation has proved extremely popular, with Leonardo selling more than 70 of the variant.

One thought on “Leonardo developing skids for AW169

  1. When I worked for Boeing at the Mesa, Arizona, helicopter plant, just after their merger with McDonnell Douglas, I was tasked with ideating on configuring the MD Explorer to have wheeled landing gear. Apparently, the corporate folks in Seattle thought, after the merger, “Hey, we’re flying a corporate helicopter made by another company, when we have our own helicopter company now, so we should fly our own product.” Sounds good, except, as I heard it, no self-respecting C-suite denizen would be caught dead riding in a skid-gear helo, so I began what was a very, very short project. Nothing came of the idea beyond some noodling and a Photoshopped photo of an Explorer in flight with stowed landing gear. I still think it would work…

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