In the mid-1990s, Agusta launched a series of design studies to determine the feasibility of using the dynamic system of the A129 attack helicopter for a medium twin-engine utility helicopter. Ultimately, this resulted in a new design, the Model 139, with a large rectangular cabin and an excellent power-to-weight ratio.
The AW139 is a medium twin-engine turbine helicopter that uses a five-bladed rotor with composite blades and two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C engines with FADEC control. A four-bladed tail rotor provides directional control. The fuselage, which features a retractable tricycle landing gear, provides two compartments. The pilot compartment seats two. A Honeywell Primus Epic avionics system is used with up to four large LCD displays for flight, engine and systems information. The passenger cabin seats up to 15 passengers in a high-density interior with three rows of seating, using energy attenuating seats. Alternatively, the interior can be equipped with a five- or six-passenger corporate interior, or carry up to six stretchers and four medical attendants. In addition, the AB139 is able to carry up to 6,000 pounds externally.
The AW139 had its first flight early in 2001 and certification to the standards of both FAR and JAR 29 was obtained in 2004. Single pilot IFR and Category A certification was also obtained.
In 2015, AgustaWestland announced an enhanced version of the AW139. The maximum takeoff gross weight was increased by 1,320 pounds. This gives the AW139 a higher payload but decreases hot and high performance at maximum payload.