AgustaWestland announced on April 24 that it has successfully completed autorotation trials for the AW609 TiltRotor program.
According to a company press release, the aircraft completed more than 70 power-off conversions from airplane mode to helicopter mode during 10 dedicated flight hours between the end of March and early April. The tests were flown from AgustaWestland’s Arlington, Texas, facility under the auspices of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and covered the full windmilling and autorotation envelopes.
“The handling qualities of the aircraft were very benign throughout the testing and the performance of the aircraft exceeded expected characteristics seen during preparation in the engineering simulator in Arlington,” AgustaWestland reported. “Together, the test pilots and engineers were able to develop the best flight maneuvers that will ultimately allow training of commercial pilots in the planned full flight simulator. This latest goal provides further evidence of the AW609’s quality in terms of design, performance, and safety in the most demanding conditions.”
This accomplishment follows the completion of the AW609 flight envelope expansion trials in December 2013, which validated the aircraft’s 25,000-foot service ceiling with a pressurized cabin and maximum cruise speed of 275 knots, both at the aircraft’s maximum weight. Other trials completed with the AW609 TiltRotor in 2013 included slope landings, run-on landings, aeroelastic stability testing, and high altitude stability testing.
AgustaWestland is aiming for FAA certification for the AW609 TiltRotor in 2017. The company said that the concurrent industrialization phase of the AW609 is also taking shape across the AgustaWestland network and associated supply chain, with new equipment and tooling being acquired “to guarantee existing orders can start to be fulfilled immediately after FAA type certification.”