The Bell/Agusta BA609 is a civil twin-engined tiltrotor VTOL aircraft with a configuration similar to the Bell Helicopter Textron/Boeing V-22 Osprey. It is being developed by Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC), a joint venture between Bell Helicopter Textron and AgustaWestland.
Design and development
The first ground tests of the BA609 prototype began December 6, 2002 and the first flight took place on March 6, 2003 in Arlington, Texas, with Roy Hopkins and Dwayne Williams as test pilots. After 14 hours of helicopter-mode flight testing, the prototype was moved to a ground testing rig for ground-based testing of conversion modes. On June 3, 2005, having completed the ground-based testing, the prototype resumed flight testing and expansion of its flight envelope. This led to the first conversion to airplane mode while in flight on July 22, 2005. As of October 2008, the two flying aircraft have logged 365 flight-hours.
Certification of the aircraft is projected for 2011. BAAC has received orders for nearly 80 aircraft.
The cost of the vehicle has not been announced; deposits are taken to reserve the right to purchase an aircraft. Final price is to be announced at least 24 months before first delivery.
The BA609 competes with corporate business jets and helicopters. It can fly where jets cannot, such as heliports or smaller airports, yet it has twice the range of a helicopter, and can fly almost twice as fast.
Data from The International Directory of Civil Aircraft, 2003-2004 and the Bell/Agusta Brochure
Published - July 2009
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