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Fri, Aug 07, 2009

ENAC Completes Tests For The First Helicopter IFR Route In Italy

AgustaWestland AW139 Helicopter Serves As Test Platform

AgustaWestland says that the ENAC (Ente Nazionale Aviazione Civile - Italian Civil Aviation Authority) last week successfully completed the first stage of qualification and authorization tests for the creation of a helicopter low altitude IFR route between Turin and Venice in Italy, crossing the Pianura Padana (Po Valley).

The trials were performed using an AW139 medium twin engine helicopter specifically equipped to monitor and process the data generated by ground and satellite based navigation systems. In particular, the reliability of navigation data and the navigation capabilities of the AW139, a latest generation helicopter, were evaluated during the tests, whilst taking into account the expected evolution of satellite navigation systems.  

Utilizing air traffic services provided by ENAV (Ente Nazionale Assistenza al Volo - Italian Company for Air Navigation Services), units constantly tracked the aircraft while evaluating the radar coverage along the route and the navigational accuracy of the AW139 flying the 210 nm (around 385 km) route.

Giuseppe Orsi, Chief Executive Officer, AgustaWestland said "We are happy to have provided our contribution for the creation of helicopter low altitude IFR routes in Italy where the latest rotorcraft technology can play a major role supporting the development of a modern integrated transportation network in the country. These successful tests represent a significant step forward as part of our efforts, under the VertiPass programme in Italy, to pave the way for further exploitation of rotary-winged aircraft flexibility, safety and cost/effectiveness to the benefit of a larger and larger number of end-users. Under this programme AgustaWestland is committed to helping expand the use of rotorcraft platforms for passenger transport purposes in Italy". 

The activity, planned by ENAC and managed by ENAV with AgustaWestland involvement, is part of a number of initiatives to develop a dedicated network of low level IFR routes optimized for helicopter operations. These routes will be integrated into the airspace system and will utilize flight levels where icing conditions are not normally experienced and below where a pressurized cabin or oxygen would be required. In the presence of adverse weather conditions procedures will be developed for helicopters to abandon the use of dedicated IFR airspace, and utilize the airspace used also by fixed-winged aircraft.

FMI: http://www.enac-italia.it/Servizio/Info_in_English/index.html

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