While the immediate effect on the ongoing tests of the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor is questionable, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) has reportedly awarded Boeing a $10.25 million contract to look into the workability of a reconfigurable rotor-blade design as part of the overall reevaluation of the troubled convertiplane.
Bell Helicopter chairman and chief executive John Murphey is in the sort of corporate hotseat many top executives yearn for: command of a major corporation at the precise moment that corporation is in, if not the fight of its life, certainly some very tough times indeed.
Even as the design was subjected to a grueling series of tests intended to determine its very future, an additional $1.5 billion in funding was approved last month for procurement of another 20 Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotors.
A new Pentagon order for V-22 Osprey tiltrotors could boost prospects for more rapid development of the BA609 civil tiltrotor. The U.S. Department of Defense signed a $10.4 billion contract for 167 more Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey military tiltrotors over the next five years, despite continuing engine problems on the machine. The Marine Corps will receive 141 MV-22s and the Air Force 26 CV-22s for its Special Operations Command.
With little fanfare and a lot of crossed fingers, flight test of the embattled Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey resumed in the final days of May at the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.
Bell/Agusta Aerospace engineers working on the BA609 Tiltrotor have stepped up their certification efforts, now working with the FAA and the EASA (via Italian authorities) and planning on more than 100 hours of flight testing this year. That goal represents a major acceleration; the company has logged only 300 hours since 2003. However, the first flight of the third prototype has been delayed again.
Mike Redenbaugh took over the CEO’s office at Bell Helicopter’s Fort Worth, Texas headquarters in May and now faces some formidable challenges–including getting the military V-22 tiltrotor program on track and completing certification of the BA609 civil tiltrotor in cooperation with partner Agusta Aerospace of Italy.
Bell/Agusta Aerospace engineers working on the BA609 Tiltrotor have stepped up their certification efforts and now plan more than 100 hours of flight testing this year–a major acceleration over the 300 hours logged since 2003. However, the first flight of the third prototype faces yet another delay. Bell/Agusta now expects certification of the hybrid helicopter/airplane design in three years.
Despite delays that have slowed progress on the Bell/Agusta BA609, AgustaWestland CEO Guiseppe Orsi insisted the program remains on track for certification and first customer deliveries in 2011.
File this one under the heading “what were they thinking?” The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) has confirmed that one of its test MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor transports (S/N 21) strayed from its approved IFR flight-test profile near Patuxent River Naval Air Station to make a decidedly VFR circular flight through the Washington, D.C. TFR, a flight evidently intended as a sightseeing circuit of the Pentagon.