PZL-Swidnik, an AgustaWestland company, is pleased to announce that the W-3A Sokół medium twin helicopter has recently performed its maiden flight in Chile. This aircraft will be operated by CONAF to perform fire fighting missions and it will be permanently based at Carriel Sur de Concepción Airport. The W-3A Sokół first flew at Rodelillo Airport, close to Viña del Mar city, performing various trials concerning vertical lift and hovering capability as well as tests for a variety of on board systems.
Fitted with Bambi Bucket or Expandable Belly Tank the W-3A is the perfect helicopter to perform fire suppression, containment and clearance operations. The Belly Tank has been designed to ensure flying speed continues to be fast, at up to 115 kts with the Belly tank fitted, and to enable very accurate and effective drops. The helicopter was also tested for fire fighting purposes using a Bambi Bucket system dropping water on the runway. The W-3A Sokół is provided with a special configuration able to carry up to 10 fire fighters plus cockpit crew or a combination of forestry officers plus mission equipment for the personnel. An additional 730 l capable fuel tank would provide even greater range and endurance to successfully accomplish the task when needed on a mission requirement basis.
The W-3A Sokół is a 6 ton. Class twin engine helicopter capable of carrying up to 12 passengers plus 2 pilots. Featured by outstanding capabilities, the W-3A has proven to be a very effective, rugged and reliable helicopter in any condition, for a wide range of roles due to its flexibility and the large number of equipments available. The helicopter has been type certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) under Part 29 and by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under Part 29.Highly flexible, with significant internal and external cargo capacity, it can perform in a wide range of operations making it an excellent utility helicopter. A low cost to useful load ratio and very easy maintenance operations make the W-3A particularly attractive for operators in a wide range of applications.
The versatility of the W-3A allows easy and quick aircraft reconfiguration to allow for “helitacks” operations such as special teams transport for up to 10 persons, Rescue and Medevac operations using rescue hoist, search light, emergency medical kit, fire fighting equipment and special tools transport using the external cargo container and the large baggage compartment. Almost 150 units have been sold so far and the W-3A in actually operated by 20 customers in 8 countries worldwide and also the Philippines government recently expressed its interest in buying W-3A Sokół helicopters.