Flight Testing Progresses For Unconventional Biz Aircraft

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Civilian Tiltrotor Tests Begin ...

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As the Pentagon ponders whether the tilt rotor V-22 Osprey is too costly (or yet too dangerous) for the U.S. Marines and elite soldiers, Bell Helicopter has begun ground-testing a civilian version of the half-helicopter/half-airplane. The Bell/Agusta 609 would carry six to nine passengers and, like the troubled Osprey, use large propellers on the ends of tilting turbines to land and take off vertically and fly somewhat like a regular turboprop twin. Bell/Agusta is predicting a 275-knot cruise speed for 1,000 nm with long-range tanks. No price projections were offered in the Bell news release. The V-22 program has been plagued by safety problems and cost overruns, and some have suggested it might be on the Pentagon chopping block. Bell says the ground-testing will last up to 50 hours, but it's not saying when the first flight might be. The company is hoping for certification by 2007 and already has 70 orders. Production aircraft will be built in Texas and Italy.

... And Adam's Piston Twin Reaches Flight-Test Milestone

Adam Aircraft, of Denver, Colo., announced earlier this month that its prototype A500 aircraft, a six-place, centerline-thrust piston twin, has passed 100 hours of flying in its testing program. "We've completed 50 test flights," engineer and test pilot Glenn Maben said in a press release. "So far, the aircraft has met or exceeded our expectations. We're very pleased." The test aircraft has reached an altitude of 25,000 feet and airspeed of 220 knots. "The engines, Teledyne Continental TSIO 550Es, are performing flawlessly," Maben said. The prototype is scheduled to undergo another 200-plus hours of flight tests. The company expects to start deliveries of the A500 by the second quarter of 2003.