Agusta's newest helicopter, the widebody A-119 Koala is a relatively large single turbine powered helicopter designed for a range of utility transport missions where it makes economic sense to operate a single when the redundancy of a twin is not required.
Agusta began development work on the Koala in 1994, leading to the first prototype's maiden flight in early 1995. A second prototype flew later in that same year. Agusta originally aimed to gain certification for the A-119 in late 1996 but this was delayed until late 1998. One cause for the delay has been strong sales demand for the A-109E Power, another to enhance the A-119's performance in response to customer feedback. Production deliveries are planned for 1999.
The Koala's big selling feature is its large 'widebody' fuselage. Agusta says the cabin is 30% larger than the cabins of any other current production single engine helicopter. A measure of the cabin size is that it can accommodate two stretcher patients in an EMS role, along with two medical attendants. Most other single engine helicopters typically are only equipped for a single stretcher because of a lack of space (Agusta sees medical retrieval operators as prime potential Koala customers).
Access to the main cabin is via two large sliding doors, one either side of the fuselage. A baggage compartment in the rear of the fuselage is also accessible in flight.
The first prototype Koala was powered by a Turboméca Arriel 1 turboshaft but it was subsequently reengined with a 747kW (1002shp) takeoff rated Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B-37, which powered the second prototype and will feature in production aircraft. Another design feature is the Koala's composite four blade main rotor which features a titanium fully articulated maintenance free hub with elastomeric bearings and composite grips.
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