Colombia selects AW139 as new presidential helicopter

Colombia has ordered a single Leonardo AW139 medium-lift, twin-engine helicopter to serve under the nation’s air force in a presidential transport role, the company announced on January 11.

The aircraft – which the firm states will be handed over in a special very very important person (VVIP) configuration – is scheduled to be delivered to the Colombian Air Force this spring. Leonardo boasts that the eight-seat AW139 VVIP comes with the highest safety standards and includes the same self-defence suite that is typically integrated onto other helicopters in a head of state/government transport role. Once delivered, the air arm will become the nation’s first military customer of the type, expanding Colombia’s existing civil-operated AW139 fleet.

Colombian Air Force AW139 VVIP [Leonardo]
A digital rendering of Leonardo's AW139 VVIP, sporting the colours of the Colombian Air Force. Leonardo

In a press release, the company said: “The selection of the AW139 VVIP in Colombia confirms the leading role of Leonardo in the world’s VIP multi-engine helicopter market with a 40% share and grows the success of the type across Latin America for a range [of] roles, including VIP and offshore transport, law enforcement and public services.”

The Colombian Air Force initially announced its intention to procure the AW139 as the nation’s new presidential helicopter on August 14, 2020 – after it had evaluated a number of options. In Colombian service, the platform will serve as a replacement for Bell 412EP, serial FAC0006, which was written-off in a crash on October 25, 2019, which killed all six crew members on board.

Leonardo has also proposed the AW139M – the military variant of the platform – to Colombia in a bid to fulfil the nation’s multi-role helicopter requirements for the air force, army, national police and navy.