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Friday, October 8, 1999:

Bell / Agusta 609 Tiltrotor

FT. WORTH, Texas, USA ( Bell Agusta Aerospace Press Release ) - Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company reports significant progress with 85 percent of the engineering drawings now complete.

With first flight expected in late 2000, the prototype wing and fuselage are now in tooling. First deliveries for the BA 609 are scheduled for 2002.

Bell/Agusta is a joint venture between Bell Helicopter Textron and Agusta, a Finmeccanica company, to design, develop, produce and market the BA 609 and the AB139 twin engine helicopter.

The BA 609 is a versatile tiltrotor aircraft providing operators greatly improved performance with twice the speed and range of conventional helicopters. The aircraft in standard configuration is fully pressurized and de-iced. With its rotors in the vertical position, the tiltrotor is able to take-off, land and hover like a traditional helicopter. With the rotors in the horizontal position, the tiltrotor is able to fly with the high speed and range of 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 BA 609 will cruise at 275 knots with a maximum unrefueled range of 750 nautical miles, 1,000 nautical miles with auxiliary fuel tanks. The BA 609 offers many advantages over other forms of vertical flight transportation currently used. Helicopters have reached their physical performance limits while tiltrotors offer unique flexibility, increased productivity, lower operating costs (versus helicopters) and can replace mixed fleets of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

The 77 advance orders for the BA 609 tiltrotor are from 42 different customers in 18 different countries.

Bell/Agusta will build four aircraft prototypes of the BA609. The first flight is scheduled for late 2000 with first deliveries in 2002. The BA609, along with the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor and its variants, will be built at Bell's new Tiltrotor Assembly Center in Amarillo, Texas. A BA 609 assembly line will also be established at the Agusta plant in Italy. 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.

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