The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded instrumental flight rules (IFR) supplemental type certification for Leonardo’s TH-119 single-engine next-generation military training helicopter.

Based on AW119, TH-119 is Leonardo’s proposal for the competition to replace the US Navy’s ageing fleet of TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopters.

Leonardo claims that the TH-119 is the only single-engine helicopter in decades to meet existing IFR requirements.

Certification means pilots can operate the aircraft safely in low visibility and challenging weather conditions.

The navy’s training helicopter replacement programme seeks to purchase aircraft with IFR certification.

Leonardo will manufacture up to 130 TH-119 helicopters at its existing FAA Part 21 production facility in Philadelphia if the aircraft is selected for the programme.

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In a statement, Leonardo said: “The TH-119 is poised to become the best single engine training helicopter on the market because of its unique capabilities. It is the only full-spectrum helicopter flexible enough to satisfy every training flight requirement, from fundamental autorotations to more advanced Search & Rescue procedures and Night Vision Devices, for example.

“Its strong and reliable Pratt & Whitney PT6B engine gives the TH-119 the best power margins in its class while the rugged and durable metal airframe withstands the daily grind of training and allows airframe repairs to be conducted on-site.”

TH-119 helicopter features advanced avionics by Genesys Aerosystems. An adjustable observer seat fitted in the aircraft provides a full view of the cockpit.

Furthermore, the helicopter supports ‘hot’ pressure refuelling, which means refuelling can be performed without the need to turn off the engine.

Leonardo conducted the first flight test of the training helicopter in December last year.

The TH-119 aircraft can perform training flights such as sliding landings, hovering, and full autorotations, NVG, instruments, navigation, tactics, hoist, external cargo, and search and rescue.

The contract for the navy’s Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) TH-73 programme is expected to be awarded between September and December, FlightGlobal reported.

Other contenders for the contract include Bell’s 407GXi and Airbus Helicopters’ H135.