The A119 designation was first applied to a proposed 11-seat stretched version of the A109 in the 1970s, but this was never actually built. The helicopter that was eventually to enter production was conceived in 1994, as Agusta was recovering from the financial woes that had nearly put the company out of business, and the second of two prototypes took to the air in February the following year. The first prototype was used for static tests. Civil certification was originally anticipated in 1997, but that deadline was missed with Agusta citing personnel problems, and a need to increase the performance of the aircraft to meet customer expectations.
By way of a solution to the latter concern, the decision was taken to change the A119's powerplant. The prototypes were originally fitted with Turboméca Arriel 2K1 turboshafts, but the ubiquitous Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6B was chosen in its place. In 1998, the prototypes were remanufactured with this engine, and assigned new serial numbers. Certification was now expected by the fourth quarter of that year, but this date slipped to July 1999, and it was eventually December before Italian RAI certification was awarded. US FAA certification was awarded in February the following year. Customer deliveries began soon thereafter, with the first commercial example going to Australian logistics company Linfox (serial 14007, registration VH-FOX).
Read more about this topic: Agusta Westland AW119 Koala
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