A Leonardo Helicopters order announcement on the eve of Heli-Expo will pave the way for the AW609 tiltrotor to enter commercial service with U.S. launch customer Era Group. Under the terms of the deal, Era, one of the world’s largest rotorcraft operators, will take delivery of two of the VTOL aircraft in 2020, along with a dedicated training package to support their entry into service. They will be used in a variety of missions, including offshore/utility, VIP transport, EMS and SAR.
Era has been a part of the AW609 program since the two companies signed a MoU to develop an EMS variant of the aircraft at Heli-Expo 2016. “Era Group’s decision to operate the AW609 marks a new milestone in the program and a major step forward in bringing this groundbreaking aircraft to market,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo’s managing director. “A longtime partner of Leonardo as our largest civil customer, Era’s forward-thinking approach to the future of aviation leverages investments in vertical lift technologies that will change the way the world flies.”
Once certified, the AW609 will be the first civil tiltrotor to enter commercial service. The aircraft can take off and land vertically, and carry up to nine people in a pressurized cabin at twice the speed and range of a typical helicopter. “As we celebrate our 70th year in service, we continue to scan the horizon for the technology in aviation that will allow us to continue to serve our customers and communities in an ever-changing world,” noted Era CEO Chris Bradshaw. “We see the AW609 as part of our future and look forward to building upon the collaboration with Leonardo as Era prepares to launch commercial tiltrotor operations across the diverse missions we operate.”
Leonardo (Booth C3225) said it currently has expressions of interest from operators worldwide for approximately 50 AW609s.