A commitment to safety as a fundamental characteristic of our products and services is part of our culture at Leonardo.
Our customers’ flight safety is our top priority and delivering safe helicopters is our primary objective.
This approach is at the heart of all our activities, from design and production to customer services, with the aim of exceeding the most rigorous safety standards and continuously developing and supporting safety in every aspect.
Leonardo’s Safety Management approach is reflected in every structure of its internal organisation and throughout the entire business network.
Leonardo is a unique and structured entity, encompassing the full helicopter lifecycle: design and related certification (including supplier management), manufacturing, sales, maintenance and continued airworthiness, training for all personnel, and support for accident/incident investigation agencies.
Safety Management System (SMS)
The Safety Management System (SMS) has been designed to reinforce Leonardo’s capabilities to identify, prevent and predict – proactively and from the bottom up – safety risks by addressing strong signals as well as weak signals – the first being after the event, the latter being early signs – before they can lead to accidents/incidents.
Leonardo’s safety governance is guaranteed through the System Safety Governance (SSG) and by the Safety Management Systems (SMS) embedded in every branch of its organisation. These include those for Design, Production, Maintenance, and Customer Support and Training, as well as for other specific SMS designed as appropriate. These have a unified governance within Leonardo’s single safety identity, whilst maintaining close proximity to their design and operational context.
Interface with the external stakeholders, including the relevant authorities, customers and suppliers, is part of Leonardo’s global safety management approach. The SSG addresses all interfaces in a single view, reporting and managing any weak safety signal as soon as it emerges.
The safety of Leonardo’s helicopters is based on the heritage of many decades’ experience in helicopter design and over a century of manufacturing and flying aircraft.
Transmission Run Dry Capability
Thanks to specific gearbox design, Leonardo’s helicopters can provide safe flight far beyond the minimum civil certification requirement of 30 minutes following a lubrication failure. Designed to withstand loads beyond operating limits and capable of maintaining an optimised oil distribution even during system failure, main rotor transmission is to run dry as follows: over 40 minutes safe run dry for AW169, 60 minutes for AW139 and 50 minutes for AW189.
Pratt & Whitney’s PW210A and PT6C-67C engines, powering AW169 and AW139 respectively, are designed to include an inherent helicopter protection safety barrier in the unlikely event of rotor fragment release, by containing intermediate fragments from the mixed flow rotor and turbine stages, as well as small fragments from all compressor and turbine stages. This is a robust and reliable complementary safety feature to the whole helicopter risk minimisation system provided by Pratt & Whitney.
Flight handling and automatic flight control systems
Good controllability combined with stability are key factors in ensuring safe operations, and are the result of one of Leonardo’s design pillars: superior performance, a balanced mix of automation and flight procedures, smooth handling and robust safe design beyond minimum certifications requirements.
There are several specific modes and envelope protection features of our Automatic Flight Control Systems (AFCS), which provide crews with a reliable and automated safety net.
Among others, the Wing Level function available on most of Leonardo’s designs is a good example, providing the pilot with an automated solution to help regain situational awareness in the event that spatial disorientation has resulted in undesired and unintended aircraft attitudes.
Avionics and navigation support
Leonardo invests in continuous technological improvement of on-board systems to offer new solutions for pilot workload reduction, further expansion of crew situational awareness, and state-of-the-art Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) all-weather operation flight solutions.
IFR navigation capability can greatly enhance the safety of helicopters' flight operations. Leonardo’s product range of civil helicopters have today fully certified Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) capabilities from B-RNAV (RNP5) to RNP0.3, all phases of flight, and RNP AR APCH up to RNP0.3 minima, and are ready to take safety advantage of PBN-certified routes and flight procedures. The PBN solutions, together with the GLS (GBAS landing system) capabilities already certified on the AW189, provide safe and precise flying paths from take-off to landing, with the potential to overcome weather dependencies. PBN capabilities are also available on the latest military products, ensuring new and greater operational flexibility.
A Synthetic Vision System (SVS) is another very powerful instrument which improves situational awareness and safety beyond standards. SVS is available on all Leonardo’s latest products, and on AW139 it has been integrated with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (HTAWS), as provided by Honeywell Primus Epic System Phase 8. This constitutes a further improvement to pilots’ situational awareness, especially in marginal Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and night operations where the pilot benefits from automatic terrain and obstacle detection.
Leonardo’s commitment to customer proximity and improving its helicopters’ availability and efficiency helps ensure the fulfilment of its primary duty of guaranteeing safe operations. The new area dedicated to customers provides direct access to all updated publications and information including the latest manuals, bulletins, maintenance instructions, information letters and safety information documents which are essential for maintaining up-to-date safe helicopter operations.
Safe operations require thorough training and awareness from flight and maintenance operators. Leonardo believes in the key value of sharing the best safety practice through training, which is designed around products, experience, customers and their operations.
Leonardo is committed to delivering the highest OEM training standards through a comprehensive courses portfolio dedicated to Pilots, Rear Crew, Rescuers and Medical Staff. State-of-the-art training environments, including a wide range of devices and capabilities, support all phases of training, satisfying any type of mission. Combining theoretical courses and on-ground practice with practical flight activities and leveraging on a team of professionals, the company provides customers with a structured approach, enhancing safety, effectiveness and proficiency for all operational scenarios.
Operational Training is based on five pillars: Safety, Crew Coordination, Non-Technical Skills, Technical skills and Standard Procedures. It offers full crew operational capability so that customers can do more with their aircraft across a variety of missions. From ab-initio to an advanced level, the Operational Training is shared between ground schools, synthetic training and live flying training activities with adapted syllabus in order meet safety requirements and customers’ needs.
Technicians Ground Courses
Technicians Ground Courses are designed based on a structured process that involves Subject Matter Experts and Instructional System Designers to determine for the different roles, the right objectives and the most effective training methods/tools to be used in order to achieve the highest level of safety during maintenance activities.
The core of this process is the Training Need Analysis (TNA) that determines what is to be taught and at which level, in order to reach the objective of the course and Leonardo Helicopters Training Academy’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to reinforce Safety and Standards during flight training activities on our products.
Leonardo’s Training Academies offer a wide range of courses to cover any Aircrew needs. Specific customer training requirements in any environment are covered at Leonardo’s facilities during recurrent and tailored training: emergency and abnormal procedures are reproducible in a worldwide customer scenario on a Full Flight Simulator (FFS) and can be managed according to specific customer operational procedures.
All Aircrew Training Programmes are designed based on a structured process that involves Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and Instructional System Designers (ISDs) to determine the right objectives and the most effective training methods/tools to be used in order to achieve the highest level of safety during the pre-flight, flight and post-flight activities.
CFIT Education Programme
Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) ranks as the 13th most common type of helicopter accident. Moreover, 60 per cent of CFIT accidents are critical. Leonardo has launched a dedicated Helicopter CFIT Programme that, relying on Full Flight Simulator training, prepares aircrews for such risks with improved skills and deeper awareness.
Flight Risk Assessment
SkyFlight is the optimal off-aircraft platform for pre-flight evaluation, ensuring a thorough Safety Assessment. Leonardo introduced a new functionality to further increase customer safety: the Flight Risk Assessment tool, which supports this crucial element of mission planning.
The Risk Assessment functionality embeds the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) pre-departure risk assessment checklist, supporting different types of flight missions according to the “PAVE” areas, that is: Pilot-in-command (PIC), Aircraft, enVironment, and External pressures. The success of the flight mission is closely related to a wide set of factors that must be taken into consideration. SkyFlight offers pilots a deep understanding of the current situation showing the potential consequences of their flight plan.
Risk Assessment Checklist
Through the Risk Assessment Checklist, pilots can input mitigations and view, save and share the total risk score. According to the checklist’s parameters, a dedicated warning indicates if the aircraft should fly or not. The Checklist can be completely customised by the safety manager, who can develop questions, answers, possible mitigations and users’ messages.
Safety requires collaboration that includes every stakeholder. Leonardo is an active partner in all the major safety networks and a proactive player in numerous safety-related initiatives and promotion activities in our sector. This cooperation ensures the company stays up-to-date with the latest safety developments and provides a seat at the table for all major discussions and projects, national and international that aim to promote and improve safety.
Leonardo’s collaborative approach puts safety at the heart of its operations and helps the company ensure the same for its customers. Below you can read details of just some of Leonardo’s recent and ongoing projects.
Leonardo and ENAV
Leonardo and ENAV have joined forces to develop innovative solutions for a more efficient use of helicopters in the dedicated IFR (Instrument Flight Rule) air space, which focus on digitalisation, sustainability and safety.
Through this innovative collaboration, the two companies combine their industrial capabilities for design, production, supply and support of modern, high-performance helicopters with ENAV’s expertise in the development and management of air space in Italy and overseas.
Performance Based Navigation (PBN) is the latest generation of IFR procedures based on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). The latest certification standards of Leonardo’s helicopters, with their advanced systems and equipment, already allows the use of modern PBN navigation procedures, and ENAV has long been at the forefront of design for PBN procedures for both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. The adoption and implementation of PBN significantly enhances flight safety, environment protection, public service flexibility, responsiveness and effectiveness, and air transport efficiency.
PBN procedures, carried out through advanced satellite navigation, support air space optimisation, delivering greater flight operation safety thanks to superior navigation, approach and landing precision and accuracy, a key enabler particularly in certain weather conditions. It is combined with or replaces the more traditional land-based radio navigation systems.
Leonardo and its partners on ISMS
Leonardo has developed an Infrared Stress Monitoring System (ISMS) for real-time monitoring of the stress to which helicopter crew members are subjected during operations. The ISMS was developed together with D'Annunzio University of Chieti–Pescara and the company Next2U, in collaboration with the Italian Army Aviation (Aviazione dell’Esercito, AVES).
ISMS uses infrared technology to identify the so-called "emotional variations" of an individual. A set of reactions – including heartbeat, breathing, hormone release and metabolic control – influence the skin temperature of some areas of the face, which is monitored using an infrared camera. The thermal data collected and processed through Artificial Intelligence algorithms constitutes an objective means of measuring the workload experienced by the pilot, based on Bedford Workload Rating Scale (BWRS) indexes. Patented algorithms allow finally identifying an integrated Stress Level Index (SLI) assessment. By assessing pilots’ reactions during flight operations, it will be possible to lower their workload and ensure safer mission planning.
This assessment of training effectiveness based on quantitative and objective measurements of pilot reactions provides a paradigmatic shift in evidence-based pilot training. Not only is ISMS an innovative and highly promising step towards safer, more effective and efficient pilot training, it also promises a longer-term view that will support cockpit design that reduces pilot workload and ensure safer operations well into the future.
Leonardo and Together4Safety
The EASA Rotorcraft Together4Safety project has the objective of keeping users informed and updated with all the latest news and information, and providing safety tips specifically to the rotorcraft community. Joining the related Community Area allows receiving updates through email notifications.
Leonardo is an active partner of Together4Safety, contributing to the generation and review of safety promotion content. Sharing information and best practices are a key element for improving flight safety.
Leonardo and EPAS
The European Plan for Aviation Safety (EPAS) constitutes the regional aviation safety plan for EASA Member States, setting out the strategic priorities, enablers and main risks affecting the European aviation system. EPAS is developed by EASA in close consultation with the EASA Member States and industry. Leonardo is an active partner of the EPAS collaborative approach, participating in the key rulemaking, safety-promotion and research tasks, towards the continuous improvement of the overall aviation safety in Europe.
Leonardo and EHA
European Helicopter Association (EHA) is a non-for profit association representing the interests of rotorcraft Operators at European and international Institutions.
It provides advocacy towards the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), European Defence Agency (EDA), European Commission (EC), European Parliament (EP), Eurocontrol, the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU), the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and International Partnership Program (IPP), etc.
EHA influences safety standards and growth of the European rotorcraft industry, creating new opportunities for its members. Leonardo is an active member of EHA with the shared objectives to improve helicopter safety through:
Innovation: foster innovation aimed at enhancing the sustainability and safety of the vertical lift market
Regulation: participation in ICAO advisory boards, EASA advisory boards and EASA EPAS
Communication: communicate with all stakeholders the value of EHA. Increase recognition of rotorcraft industry
Advertisements, letters and brochures dedicated to specific targets but with the common objective of disseminating safety issues.
At the 12th edition of the EASA Rotorcraft and VTOL Symposium, Leonardo presented its new Automation And Flight Path Management video about the importance of combining state-of-the-art technology, training, safe operations, expertise and digitalization to increase safety in flight.