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.
While praising the efforts of his predecessor, Bell Helicopter’s freshly appointed CEO has been offering his own vision of the future for the beleaguered rotorcraft giant. What emerges is a daring strategy that essentially bets the company on the success of the embattled V-22 Osprey military tiltrotor and, later, the BA609 civil tiltrotor programs.
Textron, the parent company of both Bell Helicopter and Cessna Aircraft, reported overall revenues of $2.6 billion for the second quarter, down from $2.8 billion in the same period last year. The company noted that higher revenues at Bell, as well as at its Fastening Systems and Industrial and Finance segments, were offset by lower revenues at Cessna. Cessna revenues and profits decreased $282 million and $55 million respectively.
In a surprise move at last month’s Paris Air Show, the much anticipated Bell/Agusta Aerospace AB139 received its type certification from the Italian aeronautical authority, ENAC, which also approved IFR operations.
Russia’s Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland announced the signing of a heads of agreement for the joint final assembly of the AW139 medium twin helicopter in a still-to-be-built factory near Moscow. According to Oboronprom director general Andrey Reus, outlined plans call for a production rate of 24 helicopters per year.