BA609 Civil Tiltrotor Still on Schedule
The BA609 tiltrotor program continues on track, according to Bell/Agusta Aerospace Co. Four BA 609s will be used in the development and certification flight-test program–two of which are flying now, one with Bell in Texas and the other with AgustaWestland in Italy. The aircraft have flown 365 hours to date. When completed, Ships 3 and 4 will join the flight-test program. Ship 3 will be used for flight-into-known-icing testing and certification, and Ship 4, a production aircraft without test instrumentation, will perform function and reliability flights and ATC interface. Three more years of flight and certification tests are planned, with 2011 as the current time frame for certification. The date of the first customer delivery has not yet been decided. Current orders for the 609 stand at more than 80. Customers have paid refundable deposits of $150,000 to hold a delivery position and will find out the final price of their aircraft 25 months before the expected delivery date. If they don’t want to take the aircraft, they will get the deposit back.