AgustaWestland is flight-testing several aerodynamic improvements that promise to boost the performance of its AW609 tiltrotor. In fact, these modifications reduce the tiltrotor’s drag by about 10 percent and deliver a “significant” weight reduction, resulting in the performance increases. The company is also upgrading the AW609’s turboprop engines, avionics and flight-control system.
According to AgustaWestland, the aerodynamic improvements include a modified vertical tail fin, sleeker engine exhaust nozzles and changes to the prop-rotor spinner cones. The second AW609 prototype has been flying with the new vertical tail fin from the company’s flight-test facility in Cascina Costa, Italy, since late July.
Meanwhile, upgraded Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engines will provide increased performance and the “latest safety enhancements” for the tiltrotor, AgustaWestland said. The AW609 will sport the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion system, with 14-inch touchscreen displays, integrated flight management systems with satellite-based navigation, synthetic and enhanced vision systems and head-up display. Finally, BAE Systems is providing a new flight-control computer for the tiltrotor’s triple-redundant fully digital fly-by-wire flight-control system.