Civil Tiltrotor Flies in Airplane Mode
Last Friday morning the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor flew over Central Texas with its outboard nacelles rotating forward to full airplane mode for the first time. BA609 project pilot Roy Hopkins and Bell pilot Jim Lindsey said the powered-lift aircraft reached 190 knots in this configuration. The aircraft returned to flight status on June 3 at Bell’s XworX research and development facility in Fort Worth, Texas, following an 18-month flight-testing hiatus for developmental engineering configuration. BA609 aircraft number two, which is at AgustaWestland’s assembly and flight-testing facility in Italy, is scheduled to make its first flight during the fourth quarter. FAA certification is planned for 2008. Bell previously said the six- to nine-passenger civil tiltorotor would cost between $10 million and $12 million, but yesterday a Bell spokesman told AIN, “We are not issuing a price yet for the BA609.” As of last October, Bell/Agusta reported orders for more than 60 BA609s.