|AW609 in aeroplane mode at Paris Air Show 2007|
|Role||VTOL corporate transport|
|National origin||United States / Italy|
|First flight||6 March 2003|
|Status||Under development/flight testing|
|Developed from||Bell XV-15|
The AgustaWestland AW609, formerly the Bell/Agusta BA609, is a twin-engined tiltrotor VTOL aircraft with a configuration similar to the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. It is aimed at the civil aviation market.
The AW609 drew on experience gained from Bell's experimental tiltrotor, the XV-15. In 1996, Bell and Boeing had formed a partnership to develop a civil aircraft; however, in March 1998, Boeing pulled out of the project. In September 1998, it was announced that Agusta was now a partner in the development program. This led to the establishment of the Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC), a joint venture between Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland, to develop and manufacture the aircraft.
On 6 December 2002, the first ground tests of the BA609 prototype began, and the first flight took place on 6 March 2003 in Arlington, Texas, flown by test pilots Roy Hopkins and Dwayne Williams. After 14 hours of helicopter-mode flight testing, the prototype was moved to a ground testing rig to study the operational effects of the conversion modes. Following the completion of ground-based testing, on 3 June 2005 the prototype resumed flight testing, focusing on the expansion of its flight envelope. On 22 July 2005, the first conversion from helicopter to aeroplane mode while in flight took place.
In 2007, certification of the aircraft was projected for 2011. By October 2008, 365 flight-hours had been logged by two prototype aircraft. By February 2012, this had risen to 650 hours, and it was reported that 85 percent of the AW609's flight envelope had been explored. As of 2012[update], AW has orders for 70 aircraft, dependent on the final unit price.
On 21 September 2009, AgustaWestland chief executive Giuseppe Orsi said that corporate parent Finmeccanica had authorised buying Bell Helicopter out of the program in order to speed it up. By 2011, negotiations centred on the full transfer of technologies shared with the V-22. At the 2011 Paris Air Show, AgustaWestland stated that it will assume full ownership of the programme, redesignating the aircraft as "AW609", and that Bell Helicopter will remain in the role of component design and certification. In November 2011, the exchange of ownership was completed, following the granting of regulatory approval.
In 2011, a third prototype was being constructed for exploring the aircraft's icing performance; a fourth prototype, to be used in the development and testing of new avionics and control systems, was also underway. By November 2012, over 700 flight hours had been accumulated by the two operational prototypes, and the third and fourth prototypes were also expected to enter service in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
At the Farnborough Air Show in July 2012, AgustaWestland announced that it was to offer a higher-weight variant of the AW609; this model would trade some of its vertical takeoff performance for increased payload capacity. Officials from AgustaWestland have suggested that this short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant may be an attractive option for maritime search and rescue operators.
In 2012, the certification process is ongoing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the AW609 is to be certified in compliance with both helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft rules; additionally, new codes will cover the transition phase between the two modes. In January 2013, the FAA defined US tiltrotor noise rules to comply with ICAO rules, expecting the AW609 to be available within 10 years. A noise certification will cost $588,000, which is the same as for a large helicopter. In August 2012, the aircraft was forecast to receive FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification in early 2016.
In early 2013, AgustaWestland was considering the US as the final assembly point for production AW609s; managing director Robert LaBelle has stated that 35% of the customer market for the tiltrotor is expected to come from the US market. Later reports suggest that the primary production line is to be located in Italy, with a second production line in the US under consideration.
In June 2013, AgustaWestland announced that work to integrate design changes made as part of a major modernisation of the AW609 would delay certification by up to one year. According to senior vice president of marketing Roberto Garavaglia, the Italian government is interested in acquiring several AW609s for coastal patrol duties; however, due to an agreement with Boeing, these may not feature armaments.
Total flight time of the two first prototypes is 800 hours as of September 2013.
The AW609 is a tiltrotor aircraft capable of landing where conventional fixed wing aircraft cannot, such as heliports or very small airports, while having twice the speed and the range of any available helicopter. Outwardly, the AW609 appears to be similar to the military-orientated V-22 Osprey; however, they share very few components. Unlike the V-22, the AW609 has a pressurised cabin. As of 2013, multiple basic cabin configurations have been projected, including a standard nine-passenger layout, a six-to-seven-passenger VIP/executive cabin, a search and rescue design that includes hoist/basket and four single seats, and a medevac and patrol/surveillance-orientated arrangement.
The AW609 is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67A turboshaft engines; in the event of single engine failure, either engine is capable of providing power to both prop rotors. Avionics include a triple-redundant digital fly-by-wire flight control system, a head up display system, and FADEC. The cockpit has been designed so that the AW609 can be flown by a single pilot in instrument flight rules conditions. Following AgustaWestland's full acquisition of the program, a substantial modernisation of the AW609's design was initiated in mid-2012; changes included new engines and a brand new cockpit design, including flight management systems and other avionics.
Bell/Agusta aims the aircraft "at the government and military markets". In 2007, Bell/Agusta stated that they intend for the BA609 to compete with corporate business jets and helicopters. Specifically, the company has stated that the BA609 would be of interest to any operator that has a mixed fleet of fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. In 2004, Lt. Gen. Michael Hough, USMC deputy commandant for aviation, requested that Bell conduct studies into arming the AW609, potentially to act as an escort for V-22s.
In 2001, Terry Stinson, then chairman and CEO of Bell Helicopters, declared that costs will amount to "at least US$10 million". In 2004, Don Barbour, then executive marketing director, stated that "early orders were taken at a price of between $8 and $10 million... since 1999, orders have been at a price to be confirmed no later than 24 months before aircraft delivery. In 2012, industry reporters estimated that unit cost may come to $30 million.
- Crew: 1 or 2
- Capacity: 6 to 9 passengers or 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) payload
- Length: 44 ft (13.4 m)
- Height: 16 ft 3 in (5.0 m) nacelles vertical; 21 ft 10 in (6.7 m) nacelles horizontal
- Wingspan: 38 ft 5 in (11.7 m)
- Width with rotors: 60 ft 5 in (18.4 m)
- Rotor diameter: 25 ft 10 in (7.9 m) each
- Rotor area: 981.75 sq ft (91.2 m2)
- Empty weight: 10,483 lb (4,755 kg)
- Useful load: 5,500 lb (2,500 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 16,800 lb (7,600 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67A turboshaft, 1,940 shp (1,447 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 275 kn (509 km/h; 316 mph)
- Cruise speed: 260 kn (482 km/h; 299 mph)
- Range: 750 nmi (1,390 km; 860 mi)
- Ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,600 m)
- Rate of climb: 1,500 ft/min (7.6 m/s)
- Disk loading: 15.8 lb/sq ft (77.1 kg/m2)
- Related development
- Related lists
- Maisel, Martin D; Giulianetti, Demo J; Dugan, Daniel C (2000). The History of the XV-15 Tilt Rotor Research Aircraft. Monographs in Aerospace History No. 17. NASA. ISBN 0-16-050276-4. NASA SP-2000-4517.
- Frawley, Gerard (2003). The International Directory of Civil Aircraft, 2003–2004. Aerospace Publications. p. 48. ISBN 1-875671-58-7.
- "BA609 Ground Runs Convert Helicopter To Airplane". VTOL.org. American Helicopter Society. March 2005. Archived from the original on 27 September 2006.
- "Bell Returns BA609 to Test Flight". VTOL.org. American Helicopter Society. June 2005. Archived from the original on 27 September 2006.
- "BA609 Tilt Rotor Makes Airplane Conversion". VTOL.org. American Helicopter Society. July 2005. Archived from the original on 27 September 2006.
- Cox, Mike; Hubbard, Greg (18 June 2007). "BAAC 609 Flight Test Continues Development Pace" (Press release). Bell Helicopter. Archived from the original on 15 July 2007.
- Padfield, R Randall (7 October 2008). "BA609 Civil Tiltrotor Still on Schedule". AINonline.com. Archived from the original on 16 October 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
- Wynbrandt, James (11 February 2012). "AW609 Finally Ready for its Close-up". AINonline.com. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Dubois, Thierry & Huber, Mark. New Rotorcraft 2012 Aviation International, February 2012. Accessed: 31 March 2012. Quote: "is now believed to have soared to $30 million"
- Peruzzi, Luca (21 September 2009). "AgustaWestland looks to take full control of BA609 civil tiltrotor programme". Flight International via FlightGlobal.com. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Osborne, Tony (5 March 2011). "Heli-Expo 2011: AgustaWestland to take over BA609 tiltrotor project". Shephard Media. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Trimble, Stephen (14 March 2011). "Bell, AgustaWestland disagree on future of BA609 partnership". Flight International via FlightGlobal.com. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- "AgustaWestland Takes Full Ownership of the BA609 Programme" (Press release). AgustaWestland. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- Sarsfield, Kate. "AgustaWestland at full tilt to deliver AW609 on time." Flight International, Vol. 180, No. 5320, p. 18. 6 Dec 2011.
- Morrison, Murdo. "IN FOCUS: AgustaWestland exploits buoyant civil helicopter market." Flight International, 13 November 2012.
- Dubois, Thierry. "AgustaWestland Offers Higher Weight AW609 Option." AINonline, 10 July 2012.
- Croft, John. "IN FOCUS: Global demand grows for helicopters able to access remote oil and gas fields." Flight International, 7 February 2012.
- "Noise Certification Standards for Tiltrotors". Federal Aviation Administration. 8 January 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- "FAA Publishes Modified Noise Rules For Tiltrotors". Aero-News. 11 January 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
- Thurber, Matt. "AgustaWestland Taps P&WC, Rockwell Collins and BAE for AW609 Civil Tiltrotor." Aviation International News, 2 August 2012.
- Huber, Mark. "AgustaWestland AW609 Moves Forward, May Be Built in Texas." Aviation International News, January 2013.
- Perry, Dominic. "AgustaWestland AW609 certification slips to 2017." Flight International, 10 June 2013.
- Perry, Dominic (September 13, 2013). "AgustaWestland tests enhancement package on AW609". FlightGlobal. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- Aston, Adam (22 October 2007). "Selling CEOs on a Troubled Bird". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- "AW609 Program Accelerating Under AgustaWestland." AIN Online, 4 March 2013.
- TRAUTVETTER, Chad (12 July 2012). "AgustaWestland Names Three Key Suppliers For AW609 Civil Tiltrotor". AIN online. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Rockwell Collins’ Pro Line Fusion selected for AW609". 26 October 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
- "Products: BA609". AgustaWestland. Archived from the original on 6 June 2010.
- Croft, John (15 February 2008). "Civil rotorcraft special: Rotorcraft makers strive to break the civil rotorcraft 'speed limit'". Flight International via FlightGlobal.com. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Staff (6 July 2004). "Bell asked to come up with a tilt-rotor gunship to escort V-22s". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved 14 February 2012.
- Cowan, Rory (2001). "Bell Takes 'Cautious' Stance on Economy". Aviation Week. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
- "Bell Augusta: BA609". AINonline.com. 2004. Archived from the original on February 23, 2004.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bell/Agusta BA609.|
- AgustaWestland AW609 website
- Performance, Loads and Stability of Heavy Lift Tiltrotors. AHS Vertical Lift Aircraft Design Conference, January 2006.