New milestones for the AW609
Finmeccanica - AgustaWestland has a new partner for the development of the AW609 tiltrotor program.
Finmeccanica and Bristow Group, a leading provider in helicopter services for the offshore energy industry, have signed an agreement to collaborate in the development of the AW609 tiltrotor, in particular for the Oil & Gas and Search and Rescue dedicated configurations of the new aircraft. The two companies will contribute to flying activities toward aircraft maturity and to address the commercial aspects of future AW609 acquisitions.
The agreement further strengthens the long-standing partnership between Finmeccanica and Bristow Group. In particular, Bristow already globally operates the AgustaWestland AW139 and AW189 for SAR operations and Offshore transport. By joining forces through their respective expertise and know-how, the two companies are moving towards the a marketing and operational stage preparation as the program enters the industrialization phase.
In the meantime, the development of the tiltrotor continues at full speed as in the recent weeks it marked important steps on the path to certification, expected in 2017.
Among all the performance and product improvements recently introduced, range and the maximum takeoff weight have been upgraded. The first, thanks to the development of additional fuel tanks, has risen up to a maximum of 1,100 nm (2083 km) with the possibility to transport six passengers over a range of 800 nm (1,482 km) in a little more than three hours. The second, after a phase of flight tests, has been increased up to 18,000 lbs (8,165 kg), thanks, in particular, to engine upgrades and landing gear modifications and optimized flight control techniques.
The cabin door is also being enlarged on all variants to improve access, in particular for SAR and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) operations. An updated avionics has been introduced to provide pilots with the very latest features to manage and monitor flight activities and make flying safer.
With nearly 1,200 flying hours recorded by the first two prototypes, a third one already in final assembly stage and a fourth to be ready by 2016, AW609 has already been selected by 60 customers around the world to carry out various missions such as offshore transport, patrol and search & rescue, air ambulance, government and private transport.