Leonardo: AW609 pro­gramme moves for­ward pre­par­ing for ic­ing tri­als

SP's MAI - - AEROSPACE DEVELOPMENTS -

The AW609 tiltro­tor pro­gramme is ex­pected to start ic­ing tri­als soon fol­low­ing re­cent ground and flight test­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. These ad­vances have been made in sup­port of FAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, which re­mains on track for 2018.

The third pro­to­type, based at Leonardo’s fa­cil­ity in Philadel­phia, per­formed sev­eral weeks of un­re­strained ground test­ing and, more re­cently, flight tri­als that al­lowed avion­ics and all sys­tems to be fully tested. Dur­ing ini­tial flights, the air­craft per­formed ba­sic hov­er­ing and ma­noeu­vring and pat- terns around the air­port, con­clud­ing with hover land­ing. Ad­di­tional flights up to al­ti­tudes of 4,000 feet with short take-off and land­ing (STOL) are planned shortly.

The air­craft will un­dergo ic­ing tri­als in Mar­quette, Michi­gan, through the win­ter. The tests will en­sure the AW609 can fly in known ic­ing con­di­tions and reach op­er­a­tional stan­dards not cur­rently avail­able in any other com­mer­cial air­craft.

The fourth AW609 pro­to­type is now lo­cated within the main pro­duc­tion area of the Philadel­phia fa­cil­ity’s as­sem­bly line to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion to the first pro­duc­tion build air­craft, also planned for 2018. The unique flight char­ac­ter­is­tics of the AW609 com­bine the ben­e­fits of a he­li­copter and a fixed-wing air­craft into one air­craft. Fly­ing above ad­verse weather con­di­tions with up to nine peo­ple in com­fort or a com­bi­na­tion of stretch­ers and med­i­cal at­ten­dants in a pres­surised cabin with tur­bo­prop-like speed and per­for­mance, the AW609 rep­re­sents the nextgen­er­a­tion of air­craft trans­port.

With agree­ments for nearly 60 units from cus­tomers around the world, in­clud­ing the in­ten­tion of the UAE Joint Avi­a­tion Com­mand to take de­liv­ery of three air­craft, the AW609 is ca­pa­ble of di­verse mis­sions, in­clud­ing pa­trol and search and res­cue, off­shore trans­port, ex­ec­u­tive/pri­vate trans­port and home­land se­cu­rity roles. De­vel­op­ment agree­ments are in place with Bris­tow Group and Era Group, for off­shore and EMS vari­ants, re­spec­tively.

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