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The AW189 is a civilian twin-engined medium lift helicopter built by Leonardo as a development of the military orientated AW149. Developed primarily as an offshore support, search and rescue and passenger transport helicopter, the AW189 achieved its first flight in December 2011. Powered by a pair of General Electric CT7 turboshafts, a sub variant is now also in operation designed for hot and high operations with Gulf Helicopters known as the AW189K. Powered by the Safran Aneto-1K, the AW189K produces 500shp more per engine than the standard AW189 whilst having 10% lower fuel consumption.
The UK Search and Rescue (SAR) capability was provided by the RAF, Royal Navy and HM Coastguard, using the Sea King and S-61. Following a decision in 2006 by Her Majesties Government, the capability was put out to tender to private operators. During March 2013, the Department for Transport signed a contract with Bristow Helicopters to provide the UK SAR capability from 2015 using the Sikorsky S-92 and Leonardo AW139/AW189 helicopters. The new service achieved full capability during 2019.
Bristow will once again be providing one of their SAR AW189s for static display at this year's Air Tattoo. The AW189 will be displayed alongside a Bristow SAR S-92. Photo Credit: Paul Fiddian