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
  • whether the main gear partly or fully retracts

Details will be added later.

Confusion possible with

TAI T625 Gökbey


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


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


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


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


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.