AgustaWestland Taps P&WC, Rockwell Collins and BAE for AW609 Civil Tiltrotor

 - August 2, 2012, 12:55 AM
The PT6C-67A that will power the AW609 is rated at 1,675 shp for max continuous power and 1,940 shp for max takeoff.

AgustaWestland signed agreements at the Farnborough airshow with three key suppliers–Pratt & Whitney Canada, Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems–for its AW609 civil tiltrotor program. These major agreements follow a trail of contracts signed with AW609 component suppliers since AgustaWestland acquired the tiltrotor program last November. The OEM expects to obtain FAA and EASA certification of the AW609 in the first half of 2016.

Under its agreement, Pratt & Whitney Canada will provide the PT6C-67A, a new turboshaft derivative of the venerable PT6A with increased performance capabilities that is slated for certification at the end of 2015. While -67A engines have been flying on the AW609 (née BA609) prototypes for the past 10 years, the certified powerplant will incorporate several upgrades, among them core design changes that will increase efficiency, P&WC vice president of engineering Walter Di Bartolomeo told AIN. He added that the turboshafts are also specially designed for “rotating vertical operations,” meaning they can withstand the AW609’s transitions between vertical and airplane modes. The engine’s one-engine-inoperative thermodynamic rating is more than 2,500 shp.

Rockwell Collins will supply integrated avionics for the AW609 based on its touchscreen Pro Line Fusion embedded display system (EDS). Fusion EDS is a scaled-down version of Fusion for turboprops and light jets, with the processing hardware and software integrated into the “smart” touchscreen displays instead of the cabinet-based architecture found on larger jets.

The new avionics system, announced last October, offers touchscreen control on the 14-inch primary flight displays, a head-up guidance system capable of displaying synthetic vision imagery, “autonomous backup flight control modes, MultiScan weather threat detection and full integration with Ascend flight information solutions,” according to Rockwell Collins.

With Fusion EDS, the AW609 will be capable of single-pilot IFR operations, a Rockwell Collins spokesman told AIN. The new cockpit will be installed on the fourth airframe, which is scheduled to fly in 2014. Rockwell Collins expects certification of Fusion EDS late next year.

Finally, BAE Systems will provide an upgraded flight control computer for the AW609’s triple-redundant fully digital fly-by-wire flight control system. The computer, which is expected to receive TSO certification in 2014, will include AgustaWestland’s control laws and flight control software, as well as the Fadec digital engine control system.

According to AgustaWestland, the vendor base for the civil tiltrotor is now being renewed, “providing opportunities for cost reduction initiatives, upgrades and improvements.” In line with this, the company held a presentation to key suppliers last month at its facility in Cascina Costa, Italy that included an update on the certification program. A single integrated development team in Cascina Costa is managing the AW609 program, but much of the flight testing for the tiltrotor prototypes will take place at the Arlington, Texas facility of former tiltrotor partner Bell.