Leonardo is looking to further strengthen its commercial helicopter presence in Southeast Asia.

The Italian company has long enjoyed a strong market presence in the region thanks to the popularity of its AW139 twin-engine medium and the AW109 twin-engine light helicopter, but now the company is seeing growing interest in both its AW169 intermediate twin and the AW189 super-medium.

The AW189 has already seen particular success in Malaysia, where the company’s AW139 and AW189 are being used to support oil and gas operations, while Malaysia’s Bomba emergency service agency has a pair of AW189s to support firefighting and search and rescue tasks. Oil and gas support AW189s are also in service in Vietnam and have recently started operating with CHC for its Karratha operation in Australia.

The oil and gas operators find the super-medium helicopters more cost-effective than larger types such as the Sikorsky S-92 and Airbus H225, particularly over shorter distances with smaller numbers of personnel.

“For some operators there is not much growth because of the oil price,” says the company’s regional sales manager, Vincenzo Alaimo, based in Kuala Lumpur.

The company also sees opportunities for the recently launched AW109 Trekker, the skidded version of the AW109 Grand. The Tokyo Police Department ordered two examples of the aircraft in June 2017. The aircraft has also been ordered by a number of emergency medical service (EMS) operators.

“There is a preference by some operators for skids for their particular operations,” said Alaimo.

Meanwhile, the AW169 is also grabbing attention in the VIP and EMS markets.

With a large number of AW139s in the region, including a relatively large number of early models, Alaimo says that some operators maybe looking to replace those early models with more up-to-date examples in a bid to take advantage of upgrades to the aircraft including the increase in gross weight to 7,000 kg (15, 000 lb.).