Work continues on the Bell/Agusta Aerospace BA609 civil tiltrotor program, with more than 100 people dedicated by both Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland to ongoing flight test and certification tasks. FAA certification is now planned for 2012, according to a Bell spokesman, and the two flight test BA609s–one based at Bell facilities in Texas and one at AgustaWestland in Italy–have logged more than 400 hours.
Textron has plans to boost liquidity by at least $1 billion in the first half of this year and if successful, said chairman and CEO Lewis Campbell on Tuesday, “We probably won’t have to think about selling any of our core assets.” The Providence, R.I.-based company has already divested itself of a lesser, unidentified asset and is in the process of exiting its finance business.
Attendees who make their way to Anaheim, Calif., for the Helicopter Association International’s (HAI) Heli-Expo later this month will encounter the usual crowded and noisy convention-center floor occupied by companies unveiling their latest wares. But the event may lack some of the energy and exuberance of recent shows given the dreary economic picture.
Despite a recent executive shake-up at Bell Helicopter, company executives insist that the new $4.865 million (2007) Model 429 light twin will receive certification approval early next year and that first customer deliveries will begin shortly thereafter.
The BA609 tiltrotor program continues to move forward, according to Bell/Agusta Aerospace. Four BA609s 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. Three more years of flight and certification tests are planned, with 2011 as the current time frame for certification.
The new Bell 429 light twin will have a faster top cruise speed than the previously published 142 knots, program director Neil Marshall told AIN. He declined to specify just how much faster the 429 will be, saying only that the higher speed “would be pleasing” to customers.
Bell/Agusta Aerospace Co. is showing a new six-place VIP interior in its BA609 tiltrotor mockup here in the Orange County Convention Center (Booth No. 5519). Featuring leather seats, two beverage consoles, a flat floor and foldaway tables, the tasteful interior brings “the comfort of a corporate jet to an aircraft that can go places where others cannot,” said Don Barbour, Bell/Agusta executive marketing director.
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.
Bell Helicopter in July at the Farnborough 2008 airshow strongly hinted it is about to transfer more work to partner AgustaWestland in the protracted BA609 tiltrotor program. “We are looking for the most efficient way to get the aircraft certified and we’ll possibly find some efficiencies in Italy,” said Mike Blake, Bell’s executive v-p for customer solutions.
Safe Flight Instrument Corp. has announced that Aeronautical Accessories, an affiliate of Bell Helicopter Textron, has obtained an STC allowing installation of Safe Flight’s Exceedence Warning System for the Bell 206B JetRanger. Safe Flight’s Exceedence Warning System continually monitors torque and exhaust gas temperature and provides pilots with a tactile annunciation when limits are being reached or exceeded.