The second prototype of the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor has been flying in airplane mode since November 9 (see AIN, December 2006, page 3). It operates from Cameri, an Italian Air Force airfield near Milan.
Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company
After a hiatus of more than two years, the Bell/Agusta BA609 civil tiltrotor returned to flight status on June 3, flying for 1.3 hours. The aircraft, S/N001 and the only BA609 to fly to date, last flew on April 14, 2003, after accumulating 14 flight hours from the time of its first flight on March 7 of that year. It also logged some 41 ground test hours.
An air-medical AB139 that will be used by Italian operator Airgreen during next year’s Winter Olympic Games in Turin is on display here in Paris on the ramp beside the Bell/Agusta Aerospace chalet (A382). The twin-turbine helicopter’s unobstructed, 282-cu.-ft.
Aircraft windows specialist PPG Aerospace Transparencies is to supply Bell/Agusta and Airbus. Bird-impact tests have been completed on three windshield configurations, claimed to be among the largest in aviation, designed for the Bell/Agusta AB139 helicopter.
The first Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor performed its first full conversion to airplane mode in Texas this past August. The maneuver has become routine, and the ground-breaking aircraft has gone on to pass the 250-knot airspeed milestone.
Television images last May of Saudi commandos dropping from a Kawasaki-Vertol KV 107IIA helicopter in a dramatic rooftop assault to free hostages from terrorists has underscored the importance of rotary-wing aircraft to Middle Eastern governments. The current heightened security state, with its emphasis on anti-terrorist operations, has made helicopters the airborne assets of choice for close-in, fast-reaction operations.
On November 9, the second Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor prototype made its maiden flight in Italy. The flight took place at an Italian Air Force airfield in Cameri, near Milan. The 52-minute first flight was quickly followed by more test flights. As of November 15, the aircraft had flown in helicopter mode only.
While AgustaWestland (Booth No. 1320) continues the integration of its two ancestral helicopter companies–Italy’s Agusta and the UK’s Westland, joined together under Italian industrial giant Finmeccanica in 2000–it is also concentrating on presenting a single corporate face in the marketplace.
The second prototype of the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor (S/N 60002) logged its first flight on November 9 at AgustaWestland’s facility in Cameri, Italy. During the flight, which lasted 52 minutes, the nacelle/rotors were tilted 15 degrees forward of vertical thrust. BA609 S/N 60003 is already at Cameri and S/N 60004 is on the assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas.
AgustaWestland is acquiring Bell Helicopter’s 25-percent interest in the AB139 twin-turbine helicopter and increasing its stake in the Bell/Agusta BA609 tiltrotor. Consolidating the ownership of the AB139 will provide “increased sales and improved customer support,” according to AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppi Orsi. Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland remain partners on the Model 412 and the U.S. Presidential fleet of US-101s.