Wednesday, March 8, 2017

AW609 program back on track, targets 2018 certification

During the HAI Heli Expo 2017, Leonardo revealed that the AW609 program is back on track after the fatal crash of second prototype in Oct 2015, and first customer delivery will be achieved in 2019.

The certification flight testing involving the 1st and 3rd prototype has clocked around 1300 flight hours and is expected to achieve FAA baseline certification in 2018.

The flight testing will focus on icing trails in 2017. A fourth prototype is under final assembly at Leonardo's plant in Philadelphia and will be equipped with the final production avionics system. It will be followed by the first production aircraft.

Further, Leonardo announced some upgrade to the platform which include:

  • A more powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6 turbo-shaft engine
  • Flight Control Computer upgrade
  • Aerodynamic improvements to reduce drag by 10 percent
  • Larger cabin door with split upper/lower design
  • New main landing gear
  • Increased Maximum Take Off Weight
  • New avionics suite
  • New environmental control system
  • New inertial navigation system
  • New air data system
  • Under wing auxillary fuel tanks to extend range
  • New interior design

The civilian tiltrotor can take off and land like a helicopter with its engine and rotors rotating to vertical position, and cruise faster like a turboprop aircraft with its engine rotating to horizontal position.