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Monday July 19, 2004 :

Bell/Agusta 609 Civil Tiltrotor Enters Next Phase of Flight Test Program

FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW ( Bell Helicopters Press Release ) - The world s first civil tiltrotor aircraft, the Bell/Agusta BA609 begins envelope expansion flight test late this year. Meanwhile, the first flight test aircraft is continuing to undergo configuration modifications at Bell s Flight Research Center, Arlington, Texas, following the conclusion of the first phase of flight testing in 2003. So far the BA609 has flown a total of nine flights with 14 hours of flight time.

In addition, significant effort has been underway to support aircraft #002, which is now at an Agusta assembly and flight testing facility in Cameri, Italy, to begin its build-up for flight test in early 2005. Aircraft #003 will be shipped to Cameri later this year.

The dual flight test effort now supports the dual production line in the US and Italy much sooner than earlier plans. Dual certification (European and FAA) is planned in late 2007 with deliveries following soon after. Bell/Agusta anticipates a second assembly line in Italy for the BA609, so the flight test / certification experience will also support that goal. US and Italian aviation regulatory authorities have been very cooperative and Bell/Agusta looks forward to their continuous rigorous review for BA609 to obtain a Certificate of Airworthiness to Transport Category standards.

The current order status remains strong with essentially more than the first two years of production already committed to our existing backlog. The BA609 continues as one of the most highly anticipated aircraft ever, and we expect backlog to continue to grow as flight tests continue and are completed through certification.

During the first phase of flight testing in 2003, the nine-passenger aircraft, jointly developed by Bell Helicopter, a Textron company and by Agusta, an AgustaWestland company, flew in excess of fourteen flight hours with the nacelles in the full aft to 15 degrees forward positions. During this first phase of the flight test program, the Bell/Agusta 609 accomplished a full range of helicopter flight maneuvers including hovering, pedal turns, rearward flight and forward flight up to altitudes of 5,000 feet and 100 knots. The first flight on March 7, 2003, followed seven weeks of ground runs and taxi testing.

It is planned that the second phase of flight testing on the 609 will begin this year with flight testing to be conducted in the high speed airplane mode. With its rotors in the vertical position, the tiltrotor is able to take-off, land and hover like a traditional helicopter. When the rotors are tilted forward to the horizontal position, the aircraft is able to fly similar to a turboprop fixed-wing airplane. The transition from helicopter mode to airplane mode takes 20 seconds, as does the transition from airplane mode to helicopter mode.

The BA609, a six to nine passenger aircraft, has market applications for corporate business, offshore operators and government customers for a variety of roles including Search and Rescue, and internal security team insertion. The BA609 will have the new Collins ProLine 21 3-screen display glass cockpit as standard, and will be certified for IFR flight in known icing conditions. It is expected to be certified in 2007 with first deliveries to begin immediately following. Bell/Agusta will produce a total of four prototype tiltrotor aircraft for flight-testing in The US and Italy.

Final assembly for production aircraft will take place at Bell s Amarillo, Texas, facility. A second assembly line will be established at Agusta s plant in Cameri, Italy. Fuji Heavy Industries of Japan has the contract to build all of the production fuselages for the BA609. All parts and components for both lines will come from the exact same source yielding aircraft that will be identical whether assembled in Italy or Texas.

Headquarters for the Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company is located at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas. BA 609 customer training will be conducted at this location, which will also serve as a delivery center. The BA609 will cruise at 275 knots with a maximum unrefueled range of 750 nautical miles, 1,000 nautical miles with auxiliary fuel tanks. The aircraft in standard configuration is fully pressurized and de-iced.


Bell Helicopter, a Textron Company, is a $1.6 billion, leading producer of commercial and military helicopters, and the pioneer of the revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft. Globally recognized for customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell's global workforce of over 7,500 employees serves customers flying Bell aircraft in over 120 countries.

AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica and GKN Company, with primary operations in Cascina Costa, Italy, and Yeovil, United Kingdom, is a commercial enterprise, offering an unrivaled range of products designed to satisfy the most diverse requirements of civil and military customers. With turnover in 2002 exceeding $2.7 billion, AgustaWestland is committed to delivering outstanding products and services in globally competitive markets.

  • news: BA609 Tests Set Stage For First Hover Flight (Dec 23, 2002)
  • news: Wing mated to Bell/Agusta Tiltrotor BA609 (Dec 1, 2000)
  • news: Bell / Agusta 609 Tiltrotor (Oct 8, 1999)
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