Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: BA609
and United States of America
Bell Helicopter and Leonardo Helicopters* (*) lead contractor
Parent System: AW609
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 2019
Total Production: 80
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Description: Bell Agusta BA609 is a tiltrotor aircraft developed for the commercial market which combines the benefits of vertical taking-off and landing from rotorcrafts with airplanes' high-speed and low fuel consumption compared with rotorcraft. This aircraft can accommodate up to nine passengers with two pilots and can fly above the weather conditions. Bell and Agusta are managing the BA609 program through Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC). BAAC claims that has received more than 70 orders from 40 operators in 18 countries.
The BA609 aircraft can assume VIP/Corporate transport, Search and Rescue (SAR), Coast Guard and military support roles. The aircraft features pressurized cabin for operations at high altitude, fuselage is made of composite materials with aluminum structure, fly-by-wire controls, heated composite rotor blades, crashworthy seats, glass cockpit and two PT6C-67A engines . The aircraft design gets influence from the V-22 military tiltrotor aircraft ordered by the United States armed forces. BAAC expects BA609 to become a real breakthrough for 21st century civil aviation.
As of June 2002 in Texas, Bell/Agusta were conducting engine ground runs in preparation for the BA609 aircraft first flight. FAA certification is expected by 2007. A total of four prototypes will be produced for the development and testing program. Two assembly lines will be established one at Bell's plant in Amarillo, Texas, and the other one at Agusta's plant in Italy. Both production lines will deliver the same aircraft and all the fuselages will be built by Fuji Heavy Industries in Japan.
In June 2003, the Bell/Agusta BA609 was preparing for its first conversion to airplane mode after returning to flight status on 3 June 2005. With its nacelles in the vertical position, the tiltrotor takes-off, lands and hovers like a traditional helicopter. When the nacelles are tilted forward to the horizontal position, the aircraft flies with the high speed and range of a turboprop fixed-wing airplane. The first full conversion to airplane was executed over Central Texas 22 July 2005 reaching nearly 220 mph.
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