Bell Helicopter and the team of Sikorsky Aircraft and Boeing will build rotorcraft demonstrators for the U.S. Army’s joint multi-role technology demonstration (JMR TD), which calls for flights to begin in 2017.
The AgustaWestland AW609 civil tiltrotor passed another milestone on the road to certification by completing autorotation testing at AgustaWestland’s Arlington, Texas facility over the course of 10 flight hours in March and early April. Test aircraft Number 1 made more than 70 power-off conversions from airplane to helicopter mode.
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.
AgustaWestland is giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas, a senior executive told AIN last month. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland TiltRotor Co., said that initially the aircraft will be built partially in Italy and the U.S. but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly will be “driven by the customer base.” Some 35 percent of that customer base, he noted, is predicted to be in the U.S.
AgustaWestland (Pavilion OE1) is offering an increased-gross-weight version of its AW609 tiltrotor, which trades off some vertical takeoff capability for a higher payload limit. This will make it more attractive for some missions where vertical capabilities are not needed on departure.
Agusta Westland Tilt Rotor Co. (AWTR) flew an AW609 (née BA609) tiltrotor at Arlington Municipal Airport yesterday. The company also provided an update on the program, which comes in the aftermath of AgustaWestland’s taking over full ownership of the 609 project when former partner Bell Helicopter relinquished its half last November.
AgustaWestland established AWTR to complete certification and bring the AW609 to market, with its U.S. headquarters based at AWTR’s new office-hangar complex at the airport.
Sikorsky is now anticipating FAA certification of the S-434 light single for early next year, slightly later than the previous target date, which was this month. An improved Schweizer S-333, the S-434 sports a four-blade rotor, a new tail-rotor blade design, a structurally enhanced landing gear, a new trim system and an improved Kaflex driveshaft. The main rotor and its transmission come from the unmanned Fire Scout. The S-434 and the S-333 use the same Rolls-Royce 205-C20W turboshaft, which provides 320 shp.
Bell 222U, Midlothian, Texas, June 2, 2010–The twin-turbine helicopter was destroyed and its ATP-rated pilot and mechanic were killed after it crashed on a return-to-service flight following recently completed maintenance. The helicopter was in cruise flight at approximately 600 feet agl when witnesses say they saw the tail boom and main rotor separate from the fuselage. The aircraft was consumed in the post-crash fire.
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.
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.
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