The Italian job

High performance and guaranteed functionality thanks to the Avio Aero Service, even for the engines of the Italian Air Force HH101 helicopters facing the most extreme missions.

Sep 2020

The AW101 by Leonardo is the most advanced and powerful multi-role helicopter available on the market today, and the number one choice of numerous international armed forces. For the Aeronautica Militare, this aircraft was developed in the HH101 configuration, aka "C-SAR”, and in addition to its typical rescue and emergency, personnel recovery and support operations, it is also able to carry out other special operations (such as those of Slow Mover Interceptor).

It is therefore not surprising that the HH101 is also among the 25 models of helicopter which, in over 50 countries around the world, put their trust in the propulsive power of the T700/CT7 family of engines of GE Aviation. More specifically, all AW101 helicopters can in fact count on three CT7-8E turboshaft engines, each capable of delivering a maximum power of 2,500 shp.

A powerful and highly reliable engine - the T700/CT7 family has gathered more than 100 million flight hours - with a strong Italian connection: Avio Aero has been involved in this program since the 1970s, carrying up to 60% of the responsibility for the design and production of the entire engine, as well as providing assistance and maintenance services.

The T700/CT7 turboshaft engine at the Brindisi Service center.

The T700/CT7 family has gathered more than 100 million flight hours, Avio Aero has been involved in this program since the 1970s, carrying up to 60% of the responsibility for the design and production of the entire engine in addition to the servicing offer

Thanks to the new agreement signed with Leonardo, Avio Aero Service will also take care of the fleet in operation at the Italian Air Force bases in Cervia and Caserta-Grazzanise. The CT7-8E engine of this impressive helicopter is, in fact, already being assisted by specialists at the Brindisi headquarters for customers such as the Italian Navy and several other international military operators.

"This new contract is the first 'Performance Based Logistics'(or PBL, i.e. based on the operational availability of the fleet) for an engine of the T700/CT7 family required by one of the Italian armed forces and also includes the supply of the spare parts necessary to ensure optimal fleet efficiency", says Francesco Manciagli, Helicopters Sales Strategy & Marketing Director at Avio Aero.

This important helicopter - over 22 meters long and with a maximum weight at takeoff of more than 15 tons, with its solid structure and wide internal room (it can accommodate 50 passengers for rescue operations) and also advanced digital equipment, makes its ability to operate in the harshest environments and extreme conditions its most distinguishing feature.

The HH101 "C-SAR" helicopter of Aeronautica Militare

Therefore, propulsive performance is crucial, allowing it, for example: to perform tactical flights at very low altitude, refuel in flight (for which the Italian Air Force holds a record with this helicopter), achieve a flight autonomy of almost 7 hours (thanks to 2 out of 3 engines that can remain operational at cruising speed), a climbing speed of 9.5 meters per second and maximum cruising speed of 277 km (150 knots).

The long-standing and all-Italian collaboration with Leonardo is consolidated and reinforced, to the advantage of our Armed Forces, according to Manciagli who added, "the standardization of aircraft propulsion through the use of engines belonging to the same family (T700 / CT7) - can provide unquestionable advantages for the customers”. Furthermore, Manciagli explains that "the use of PBL type solutions enhances these advantages because, in addition to increasing fleet efficiency, it also allows a significant reduction in costs over the long term and improves the Armed Forces' ability to plan expenditures".   

A task that, together with engine management, logistics, and all the technical aspects, in the case of Aeronautica Militare, is improved through innovative skills and technologies: something that the professionals of Avio Aero and military personnel share in their daily collaboration at bases in Italy (for on-wing support or advanced engine testing activities), as well as at the Brindisi center, where a new, technologically advanced warehouse is available to customers and directly connected to both the factory and the service shop.

Francesco Manciagli, Helicopters Sales Strategy & Marketing Director at Avio Aero.

"This new contract is the first 'Performance Based Logistics' for an engine of the T700/CT7 family and also includes the supply of the spare parts  to ensure optimal fleet efficiency, the standardization of aircraft propulsion within the same engine family can provide unquestionable advantages for the customers"

Indeed, while the CT7 engine parts are designed and manufactured at the facilities in Rivalta, Pomigliano and Bielsko Biala, Brindisi is home to the reference center for the armed forces with its production of modules and components for military engines and teams of technical specialists whose skills derive from extensive experience on the various helicopter models and engines which power them.

"The process of standardization is certainly an advantage for us in Brindisi, aimed at ensuring the maximum functionality and operation of our customers' engines," says Claudio Stefanelli, Military Technical Support Manager of Avio Aero. “The support we offer during each intervention is optimized from a technical point of view, but also from a logistical point of view, being able to count on a warehouse, suitably stocked with new parts, available in the same facility."

As a result, the work of Avio Aero Military Service specialists is carried out along the lines dedicated to the various maintenance, repair and engine overhaul operations within the Brindisi plant and Italian Air Force bases (8 of which are currently served), where professionals such as Field Service Representatives (FSR) reside, creating a direct connection between end customer and company.

HH101 helicopters images are courtesy of Aeronautica Militare.