19/05/11 By Greg Waldron Flight International
The Royal New Zealand Air Force has unveiled three new AgustaWestland AW109 light utility helicopters, which will replace its Bell 47 Sioux for pilot training.
"The arrival of the AW109 is a significant and exciting step in the upgrade and replacement of the air force's rotary and fixed-wing platforms," Air Vice Marshal Peter Stockwell, chief of the air force, says.
"This will see the RNZAF equipped with the capability necessary to operate even more effectively and efficiently," he adds.
The primary role of the AW109s will be to prepare pilots for the air force's NH Industries NH90 transports or the navy's Kaman Aerospace SH-2G Seasprites.
Aside from training, the new aircraft will also be used in a light utility role to support other military services and government agencies.
The AW109s feature a glass cockpit and retractable undercarriage. They will be based at Air Force Base Ohakea on New Zealand's north island.
New Zealand will acquire two more AW109s.