Bell Helicopter (part of Textron) and Agusta (part of Finnmeccanica) joined forces in the Bell Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC) to produce the worlds first civil tiltrotor passenger aircraft - because of the UK engineer GKN's joint ownership of Agusta Westland they have a 22.5% interest in BAAC. (Pic Der Spiegel)
The BA 609 Tiltrotor was providing displays by ship 001 at le Bourget this week of this 6/9 seater composite 300mph pressurised plane witha 25,000 ft. ceiling . The BA609 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney of Canada PT6C-67A turboshaft engines which have a maximum continuous power of 1,940hp each. The tiltrotor can cruise at 509km/hr with a range of 1,389km or 1,852km with auxiliary fuel tanks. It can land/take off in restricted city centre spaces in helicopter mode and fly as a fast turboprop and mode transformation takes less than one minute.
Assembled alongside the Osprey V22 at Amarillo, after their maiden flight in Texas on March 8th 2003 (the first flight with transition to full airplane mode, reaching a speed of 190kt (219mph) took place in November 2006) . The second test aircraft made its maiden flight in November 2006
The test program so far (June 1 2007) program has logged 137 flights and 159 flight hours on ship 001, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and 14 flights and 14 flight hours on ship 002 in Cameri, Italy. The flight envelope reached 310 ktas, 25,000 feet and 35 knots in rearward and sideward flight. The longest single flight was 1.7 hours. In vertical takeoff mode, the BA609 demonstrated climb rates of 2,650 fpm and in airplane mode, 2,900 fpm.
Certification for the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (now expected 2010 with customer deliveries 2 months later) will involve Part 25 certification for large aircraft, Part 27 for helicopters and new regulations specifically for the tiltrotor.
Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan has the contract to build all of the production fuselages for the BA609 and a production line will also be built at Agusta plant in Italy. Various cabin configurations for executive, military, cargo and medical use are available and there is the possibility of a hoist.
They have an order book of 70 planes (the first two years production) at approximately US$10 Mn each. ( A V22 is costing the US taxpayer ..er...approx US$160Mn a pop) AgustaWestland insists it already has an undisclosed government customer, and the U.S. Marines have expressed interest in acquiring the aircraft for training purposes.