A Bristow Helicopters AW139 hovers over the helipad.
Photo Credit: Leonardo

Bristow Acquires Further 6 AW139s for Search and Rescue programme

LONDON – Bristow Helicopters has acquired a further six Leonardo AW139 helicopters to bolster its fleet capability. The new AW139s will be joining the existing fleet of nine AW189s, with expected deliveries between the years 2023 and 2024.

This comes after the UK government launches a new contract with the U.K Search and Rescue (“UKSAR2G”)  programme which will provide further credibility to the already proven AW139 machine. 

In fact, a third of the global  AW139 fleet performs critical life-saving missions in all conditions. 

The UKSAR2G programme by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has allowed Bristow Group to expand its already capable fleet of Agusta Westlands.

According to Leonardo Helicopters, the AW139s will feature a very high and latest in product enhancement, technology and mission technologies with the capability of performing the role.

This includes a 7-ton MTOW (Maximum Take-off Weight), Honeywell Primus Epic integrated avionics Phase 8, a cutting-edge Synthetic Vision System (SVS), improved 2D maps and wireless data loading.

This provides pilots with superior handling in bad weather conditions. This certainly will increase trust from Bristow customers. 

In addition to the high-tech avionics, the AW139s will also feature a  Limited Ice Protection System (LIPS)  for added protection to the aircraft and high mission capability in hard weather conditions. 

This latest round of the induction of Agusta Westlands 139 for the UKSAR2G will benefit and strengthen the Leonardo-Bristow synergy in the longer term; in terms of customer service and maintenance partnership.

Moreover, this latest batch of the AW139 SAR helicopters, will be retrofitted with the mission system integration, which will be performed by Nova Systems – a close partnership of Bristow should the delivery be successful. This will greatly benefit the landscape of the British aviation industry. 

Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopter Gian Piero Cutillo, optimistically stated that:

“This latest step supporting our key partner Bristow to meet major users’ needs is further testament to the outstanding capabilities of our best-selling AW139 as the aircraft of choice in its category for SAR among prime operators and countries.”

“It perfectly complements the medium to long-range SAR capabilities of the AW189 delivering unparalleled combined capabilities for the task.”

“We’re proud to continue to provide our contribution to the MCA partnership with this type, its technology and support solutions will benefit the served communities in the UK.” 

For over 2 decades, Bristow and Leonardo have been reliable and great business partners, utilising the ranges including the AW119 single engine, AW109 light twin, AW139 intermediate twin and AW189 super medium category. 

Bristow’s Success


Bristow Helicopters is one of the most loyal Leonardo helicopters users. The company will possess nearly 100 aircraft assets with the incoming 6 AW139s, which makes it one of the largest Leonardo Helicopter operators.

The Leonardo helicopters at Bristow assisted the operator to achieve scale large projects and to expand globally, and have successfully allowed the company achieve critical missions.

These range from offshore transport supporting the energy industry, SAR, and emergency medical services through out the continent, ranging from Americas, Europe, Africa, and Oceania. 

The AW139 


The AW139 has been proven to be a very capable helicopter, with more than 1,100 units in service with over 280 customers utilising this covering over 90 countries, totalling more than 3.3 million flights logged from the date of certification in 2004.

Since then, the AW139 has never failed to impress its operators, and has been very successful in the missions of emergency, medical evacuation and rescue.

While most AW139 are civil operated, about 400 aircraft covers the realms of public service, including military, and accumulated 900,000 flight hours. 

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