13-Feb-2012 Source: AgustaWestland
AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is moving forward with the development of the AW609 tiltrotor programme following the completion of its acquisition in November 2011. The company will continue the certification process with the Federal Aviation Administration targeting AW609 certification in the first half of 2016 and deliveries following immediately afterwards.
To do so AgustaWestland has established two main locations dedicated to the AW609 programme development, namely Cascina Costa di Samarate (Italy) and Arlington (TX, USA). A single Integrated Development Team is now based in Cascina Costa, headquarters to around 250 people providing engineering and flight test support, prototype assembly and programme management. The plant features a dedicated hangar, a development simulator and a vehicle management system integration laboratory capable of testing the flight control system software and hardware. The second prototype carries on test activities in Cascina Costa where the third is being assembled and the forth will follow. The new AgustaWestland Tilt Rotor Company (AWTRC) subsidiary has now been established at the new site in Arlington to continue FAA certification and flight testing of the first prototype. The dedicated facility includes a hangar and office accommodation for up to 150 people.
The first two prototypes have achieved more than 650 flight hours so far and have validated the AW609â€™s unique flight envelope including the ability to fly at altitudes of up to 25,000 feet and cruise at speeds up to 275 knots, all at the aircraftâ€™s maximum weight. The test programme continues to check all the points of the flight envelope, 85% of which has been completed, as required by both the FAA and EASA. The tiltrotor concept is the answer to the growing need for an aircraft matching the vertical take-off and landing capabilities of the helicopter with the speed, range and altitude capabilities of a fixed wing aircraft. AgustaWestland is investing in the next generation of rotorcraft technologies and the AW609 and future tiltrotor concepts are part of the companyâ€™s innovation commitment. Preliminary orders for approximately 70 AW609s have been placed by around 40 customers in almost 20 countries to perform a range of commercial and government roles. The AW609 provides customers with a new way to fly and AgustaWestland expects significant worldwide market opportunities for the aircraft with no aircraft in the market place that can come close to offering a similar capability.