Leonardo AW109/AW119 (Agusta A109/A119)

The Agusta A109 was the first European helicopter with a streamlined fuselage and a retractable gear. Nowadays is is marketed as Leonardo AW109. A single engine variant is called A119/AW119. The fuselage of the heli family gradually transitions into the tail boom. This tail boom ends very pointed, which makes it a clear recognition point. A two blade tail rotor is mounted on the left end of the tail boom. There are low mounted horizontal stabilisers on both sides of the end of the tail boom. The A109/AW109 has two turboshaft engines on top of the fuselage (the A119/AW119 one), of which the intake and exhaust shape depends on the exact model. Most A109 versions have a single nose wheel that retracts forward in the fuselage, with the gear doors being visible when the gear is extended. The single wheel main gear retracts in small stubs or upward in the side of the fuselage, depending on the exact subtype. There are however versions with a fixed wheeled gear or skids. The final characteristic are the skylight windows in the cockpit area.

The tail is the most typical area of the Agusta A109 family. The tail boom ends very pointed.

Another typical feature of the A109, A119, AW109 and AW119 is the skylight cockpit window.

Different versions

To distinguish the different versions of the A109/A119 and AW109/AW119 you'll have to look at

  • the shape of the gear box/engine housing, together with intakes and exhaust
  • the shape of the vertical fin
  • the shape of the horizontal stabilisers
  • the way the main gear retracts
  • whether the heli has a fixed or retractable gear, or skids
  • the shape and hinge attachment of the cabin doors
  • the presence of a ventral fin
  • the cabin window configuration

Details will be added later.

Confusion possible with

Leonardo AW139/AW169


The AW139 and AW169 clearly have their origin in the A109/AW109 considering the fuselage and window arrangement. How­ever, the Leonardo helicopters have a high placed tail rotor on the right and horizontal stabilises with bent-up tips. Like the Bell helicopter below the main gear of the AW139/AW169 retracts in sponsons. Finally, it has twin wheel nose gear.

Sikorsky S-76


Being used for a similar role, the Sikorsky S‑76 looks similar to the A109/AW109 as well. The tail boom is wider though and does not have the pointed end of the A109. More­over, the tail rotor is at the top of the vertical fin. The main gear is retracted rearward in the fuselage.

Bell 222/230/430


Bell was later on the market with an execu­tive helicopter, but it still looks alike. The tail boom is narrower than on the A109 and the gear retracts in sponsons (unless it has skids). The tail rotor is placed low like on the A109. The main rotor has two or four blades. Finally, the horizontal stabilisers have end plates.