The title of this comment was taken from a patch I once saw on the shoulder of an Army Air Corps pilot which, at the time, related to the introduction of the Lynx AH.9 into British Army service. The new variant replaced the skids of the older generation Lynx AH.7 with a wheeled tricycle undercarriage as part of the upgraded. Although a tongue-in-cheek dig at the older generation aircrews still flying the earlier model, it once again opened up the debate of whether the choice of skids or wheels on a helicopter is better.

While many operators within the commercial market choose a wheeled undercarriage, simply for ease of handling on the ground, there’s still a market for skids as recently demonstrated by Leonardo’s test flights of an AW169. The prototype, known as AC4, is also fitted with composite inward-canting stabiliser endplates. Other changes to the airframe are the deletion of the sponsons, which housed the main undercarriage, so bringing an overall weight saving of around 100 kg, which can be converted into payload.

The reasons for developing such a variant may simply be due to where the AW169 fits within the global marketplace. It also allows Leonardo the option of taking on the likes of Airbus Helicopters with its H145 within specific industry markets where previously the wheeled-AW169 would not have been suitable or even considered. On the other hand, it’s also a demonstration of Leonardo’s enterprising ability to get the most from all of the models within its extensive helicopter portfolio – long may it continue.

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