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Leonardo AW139 family

This family of helicopters has its origin in a team-up between Agusta and Bell, hence the first version was designated AB139. It was seen as a successor to the famous Bell UH-1 Huey. Later Bell withdrew from the project and since the helicopter is known as AW139, from AgustaWestland. Other members of the family are the smaller AW169 and larger AW149/AW189.

The AW139 family is quite a conventional helicopter. Characteristics are a five blade main rotor, two turboshaft engines and the end of the long gear box/nacelle pylon on top of the fuselage, a double nose wheel and single main landing gears retracting in small sponsons. It has a 'bone line' across the side of the fuselage and along the tail boom. The key recognition point is in the horizontal stabilisers: the tips are pointed up! Also quite typical are the flat rear fuselage side panels that continue on the tail boom.

The bent-up tips of the horizontal stabilisers are the main recognition point of the AW139 family.

Different versions

To distinguish the different versions of the AW139 family you'll have to look at

  • the number of blades on the tail rotor
  • the number and size of cabin windows
  • the number of winches

Details will be added later.

Confusion possible with

TAI T625 Gökbey

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The helicopter most similar to the AW139 is this Turkish one. However, the T625 has a more rounded side of fuselage and tail boom (no 'body line') and has end plates at the tips of the horizontal stabilisers. Other differences are much smaller. (photo: tolgaozbekcom/WikiMedia)

NHIndustries NH90

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The AW149/AW189 is similar in size as the NH90, and has a 'bone line', a twin wheel nose and single wheel main gear as well. But there are many differences: teh NH90 has a shorter nose, four-blade main rotor, a tail rotor on the left side and a single horizontal stabiliser on the right.

Airbus Helicopters H175

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The Airbus H175 also has a 'bone line', but less pronounced, and a two wheeled nose gear. However, this helicopter has a relatively large engine/gear box housing (creating a 'waterhead' appearance), no bent-up tips of horizontal stabilisers and a three-blade tail rotor on the left side. (photo: Airwolfhound/WikiMedia)

Bell 525 Relentless

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This slender helicopter has a five-blade main rotor like the AW139 family, as well as a similar landing gear. The rear fuselage and tail boom of the Bell 525 are more rounded. Moreover, it has a tail rotor on the left. (photo: Zane Adams/WikiMedia)

Sikorsky S-76

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The Sikorsky S-76 was one of the first sleek, streamlined helicopters. The fuselage of the S-76 more gradually transitions into the tail boom. Moreover, the S-76 has a fully retractable gear, including a single wheel nose gear.