AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that it has taken full ownership of the BA609 tiltrotor programme. Bell Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC) will be renamed will remain a US company being the new type certificate applicant to FAA. The new company will be totally owned by AgustaWestland and the BA609 tiltrotor will be rebranded as the AW609.
The agreement is subject to obtaining the required regulatory approvals by the relevant authorities in Europe and the USA.
The AW609 programme will be managed by a single Integrated Development Team, to be based in Cascina Costa, Italy, from autumn 2011. The nearby Cameri site will be dedicated to the development programme for AW609 government applications. AgustaWestland will also open a new operational base in Arlington, Texas, to manage the US based tiltrotor operations. AgustaWestland is fully committed to rapidly proceed with the AW609 programme development capitalizing on the activities already performed so far.
“I believe it is in the best interests of the programme for AgustaWestland to assume ownership and management over the programme going forward,” said Bruno Spagnolini, CEO of AgustaWestland. “We consider the tiltrotor concept as the answer to the growing need for an aircraft matching the vertical capabilities of helicopter with the speed, range and altitude capabilities of fixed wing aircraft. AgustaWestland is investing in the next generation of rotorcraft technologies and the AW609 and future tiltrotor concepts are part of our innovation commitment.”
“We expect significant worldwide market opportunities for the AW609, both for commercial and government applications,” added Spagnolini. “In particular, the business and sales model case for the AW609 fits consistently with the AgustaWestland extensive, modern product range of dual use aircraft.”
Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, will remain involved in the design and certification of AW609 components for which it will be the supplier when the aircraft reaches the production phase.
The AW609 is designed to meet the most stringent Transport Category specific standards in both FAA and EASA certification environments. This makes the AW609 tiltrotor a viable aircraft for all “Commercial Off-the-Shelf” possibilities in government roles, in addition to the many commercial applications represented by customers in the order backlog. AgustaWestland is committed to serving both government and non-government customers worldwide as appropriate for AW609 applications.
AW609 aircraft will be based in Arlington to proceed with the flight test programme. AW609 N 2 will be based at AgustaWestland’s Cascina Costa facility. Two more aircraft, N 3 and N 4, will be assembled at Cascina Costa with aircraft N 3 being used for icing certification testing. FAA/EASA certification is planned in 2015 with deliveries following immediately afterwards.