The Game Changer
The program now enters a new phase of dedicated certification activity, to progress towards Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) type certification to be achieved as planned in 2017. AgustaWestland is also working with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure that the regulatory framework is in place before the AW609 TiltRotor starts operating in the commercial market place.
The third prototype, now being assembled at AgustaWestland’s Vergiate facility, will join the flight test program in 2014 in support of this certification flight testing. A fourth prototype will join the certification program at a later date to allow the new avionics suite to be flight tested.
On February 25th at Heli-Expo 2014, the AW609 completed its first ever customer demonstration flight. The round trip flight began in Angels Stadium in Anaheim and continued off the coast of Southern California.
The avionics and controls of the AW609 resemble that of a traditional helicopter and therefore are familiar and easily mastered by helicopter pilots and specifically for offshore oil and gas operations, the AW609 is uniquely positioned to achieve both the necessary speed and distance to reach deepwater oil rigs.
The AW609 flew more than 320nm (580km) from Mesa, Arizona to Long Beach Airport, California in in just 1hr and 35mins (with 15-20kt headwind), at a cruise speed of 250 knots, reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet. In total, the AW609 flew 1100nm (2000km) from its base in Arlington, Texas, to Long Beach Airport, California.