Final AW609 production configuration flies in Philadelphia
The fourth AW609 tiltrotor, fully representative of the final production configuration, performed its first flight at Leonardo’s Philadelphia plant on December 23, entering what the company describes as the final program development and ground/flight testing stages.
“The aircraft performed beautifully, thanks to all the rig and ground testing and the work done by our amazing engineering and production teams,” said test pilot Dan Wells. “The new touch-screen cockpit layout really proved its value and the aircraft exceeded all of our expectations.”
Leonardo explains this flight of the world’s first multirole commercial tiltrotor achieved a major milestone on its path to FAA certification. The AW609 will be certified under the FAA’s new Powered Lift category, which the company describes as the first new category of aircraft certified by the FAA in decades.
Leonardo states the AW609 – by combining the vertical take-off and landing performance of a helicopter with the speed, range, and comfort of a turboprop airplane – is poised to transform private transport, emergency medical service (EMS), search and rescue (SAR), offshore operations and patrol, among other uses.
The AW609 carries up to nine passengers in a comfortable pressurized cabin, has a maximum cruise speed of 275 knots and can travel up to 700 nautical miles — about twice as fast and twice as far as the typical helicopter, according to Leonardo. It climbs to 25,000 feet, helping to fly above inclement weather and known icing conditions. The AW609 features fly-by-wire flight controls, Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion avionics and two Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67A engines.
The first two production AW609s are currently being assembled in Philadelphia. Era, one of the largest helicopter operators in the world and the longest serving helicopter transport provider in the United States, will be the first customer to receive the aircraft.
An advanced Flight Training Device and the world’s first AW609 Full Flight Simulator will be available for training in 2020 at the company’s new Training Academy in Philadelphia.