AgustaWestland will open a second production line for the new AW169 medium-twin helicopter at its manufacturing facility in Philadelphia, the company announced today. The primary production line for the AW169 will remain at the company’s plant in Vergiate, Italy. Four examples of the 9,000-pound class helicopter are currently in flight-test, with certification expected next year.
AgustaWestland acquired the portion of the 609 program it did not already own from Bell Helicopter in 2011, effectively dissolving the joint venture known as the Bell Agusta Aircraft Co. The 609 program is headquartered at a new AgustaWestland facility in Arlington, Texas, across the field from its previous home at Bell’s XworX. The aircraft are to be certified initially by the FAA in the U.S. under Parts 25 and 29 and a new category called powered lift.
A senior AgustaWestland executive told AIN late last week that the company was giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland Tilt-Rotor Co., said the aircraft initially would be built partially in Italy and the U.S., but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly would be “driven by the customer base” and that “35 percent of that is predicted to be in the United States.”