First flight for the production version of the AW609

The first flight of the production version of the AW609 tilt-engine aircraft, designed by Leonardo, took place on October 13.

The AgustaWestland AW609 is a multipurpose aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities, with a design similar to the Bell V-22 Osprey. Leonardo (AgustaWestland’s parent company) seeks with this equipment to redefine several areas in which helicopters have traditionally operated, introducing unprecedented capabilities. The aircraft will even operate in a new certification category called “powered take-off and landing”, which is just being developed.

The first flight team, called “AC5,” took off from Leonardo’s Philadelphia facility on October 13. Initial systems evaluation and general handling characteristics went smoothly and according to plan. Three production units, the first to be delivered to customers, are on the final assembly line in various stages of construction.

Gian Piero Cutillo, CEO of Leonardo Helicopters, said of the milestone reached by his team, “This achievement is in addition to several others that the program has reached over the past year. It demonstrates the level of maturity our program has reached. I thank our team for making this possible as they continue to work towards certification.

Leonardo promises that the AW609 will revolutionize air transport thanks to its versatility – similar to that of a helicopter – and its aircraft-like performance. The AW609 stands out for its speed in long-distance point-to-point transport, whether connecting urban centers or remote locations. The model can be used for general passenger transport, emergency services (EMS), search and rescue (SAR) and offshore operations for both private and government customers. It can carry up to nine passengers in its pressurized cabin.

To date, the program has logged nearly 1,900 flight hours in the United States and Italy. Leonardo’s Philadelphia Training Academy, opening in 2021, is home to the world’s first AW609 flight simulator.

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