AgustaWestland is flight-testing a redesigned vertical fin for the AW609 civil tiltrotor, part of an extensive package of aerodynamic improvements aimed at reducing drag by up to 10 percent, cutting weight and increasing performance. Other changes include new engine exhaust nozzles and modifications to the prop-rotor spinner cones.
AgustaWestland has confirmed reports that certification of the AW609 civil tiltrotor has been pushed out to 2017, a one-year delay. A company spokesman told AIN that the schedule change is the result of numerous upgrades being made to the design in terms of aerodynamics and systems, including new engines, avionics and fly-by-wire flight controls.
AgustaWestland is giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas, a senior executive told AIN last month. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland TiltRotor Co., said that initially the aircraft will be built partially in Italy and the U.S. but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly will be “driven by the customer base.” Some 35 percent of that customer base, he noted, is predicted to be in the U.S.
Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland has received $74 million from the UK Government Regional Growth Fund to help develop the AW609 civil tiltrotor and future tiltrotor designs. AW said it will work with the National Composites Centre, the University of Liverpool and key UK suppliers on the program. The tiltrotor is slated for certification in 2016. AgustaWestland said it would contribute more than $87 million to the program.