Tiltrotor BA609 . News

 
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IL Serge Pod #07.11.2001 13:01
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Serge Pod

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BA609 to begin ground runs

6 November 2001

The world's first civil tiltrotor is being prepared for ground run testing at the Bell Helicopter flight Research Centre in Texas. Ground tests on the BA609 will test the aircraft's powerplant, hydraulic systems, electrical systems and overall design conformity.

Ground runs will begin by the end of year, followed by aircraft flight. After initial hover tests, envelope expansion throughout the conversion corridor all the way to aircraft mode will be documented in order to achieve a full flight manual certification database. After the envelope expansion, kit development and maturation flying, deliveries will begin.

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 with the high speed and range of a turboprop fixed wing aircraft. The transition from helicopter mode to aircraft mode normally takes 30 seconds, as does the transition from aircraft mode to helicopter mode. This versatile capability enables the BA609 to fly with twice the speed and range of conventional helicopters. The BA609 will cruise at 275 knots with a maximum unrefuelled range of 750 nautical miles, 1,000 nautical miles with auxiliary fuel tanks. The aircraft in standard configuration is pressurised to fly at altitudes up to 25,000 feet and incorporates ice protection to allow flight into known icing conditions.

The BA 609 technology is derived from the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor being procured by the US Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force, which currently under investigation after a number of fatal crashes last year. Flight testing has been suspended until the Bell-Boeing team have satisfied the Pentagon that the aircraft is safe to fly.

Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company (BAAC) is a joint venture between Bell Helicopter, a Textron company, and Agusta SpA, an Agusta-Westland company, to design, develop, produce and market the BA 609 civil tiltrotor and the AB139, which is a new, modern twin engine helicopter.

BAAC reports 80 advance orders for the 609 tiltrotor from 42 different customers in 18 different countries. Final assembly for production aircraft will take place at Bell's Amarillo, Texas, facility with another assembly line to be established at the Agusta plant in 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 same source so that aircraft will be identical whether assembled in Italy or Texas.


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