Leonardo Helicopters announced that it successfully completed the first flight of an AW609 tiltrotor prototype “fully representative” of the aircraft’s final production configuration last week. The aircraft is the fourth AW609 prototype and, according to the company, represents the model’s entry into “the final program development and ground/flight testing stages.” The flight took place at Leonardo’s facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“With this flight, the world’s first multirole commercial tiltrotor achieved a major milestone on its path to FAA certification,” the company said. “[The AW609] will be certified under the FAA’s new Powered Lift category, the first new category of aircraft certified by the FAA in decades.” Leonardo has not announced an expected timeline for certification of the aircraft.
The AW609 is designed for missions such as VIP transport, emergency medical services, search and rescue, and military special operations. It will seat up to nine passengers and is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6C-67A engines. The AW609 has a range of 750 NM, top cruise speed of 275 knots, 25,000-foot service ceiling and useful load of up to 6,300 pounds. Features include the Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion avionics suite, fly-by-wire flight controls and flight into known icing capability.