Just down the road from the Dallas Convention Center is the Arlington home of the long-awaited AW609 tiltrotor program. Following AgustaWestland’s move late last year to complete the full takeover of the program from former partner Bell Helicopters, the tiltrotor is a full-blown Italian now. While work on the program will continue in the Lone Star state, all roads lead not so much to Rome, as to Agusta’s headquarters at Cascina Costa, just north of Milan.
The first prototype is being constructed in Arlington, but AgustaWestland is now running a fully integrated project team from the other side of the Atlantic. The manufacturer estimates that it will take another four years to complete certification, but CEO Bruno Spagnolini told AIN that the market will now start to see the pace of the program picking up.
“We could move towards greater commonality in the [AW609] cockpit to our helicopters,” he commented. “Conceptually, it fits very well into the product range, especially for roles such as coast guard operations.”