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Leonardo and Era Group (Era) have announced today the signing of a landmark agreement that would launch the AW609 into service in the U.S. commercial market and demonstrate its capabilities on a wider scale.
Building upon their previous efforts in helping to mature the design, development and supportability of the AW609, Era will take delivery of two aircraft in 2020, plus a dedicated training package.
These aircraft, in a nine-passenger utility configuration, will be used for numerous applications, including offshore/utility, VIP, emergency medical services, and search-and-rescue missions in the U.S.
“Era Group’s decision to operate the AW609 marks a new milestone in the program and represents a major step forward in bringing this groundbreaking aircraft to market,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters. “A longtime partner of Leonardo as our largest civil customer, Era’s forward-thinking approach to the future of aviation leverages investments in vertical lift technologies that will change the way the world flies.”
“As we celebrate our 70th year in service, we continue to scan the horizon for the technology in aviation that will allow us to continue to serve our customers and communities in an ever-changing world,” said Chris Bradshaw, CEO of Era Group, Inc. “We see the AW609 as part of our future and look forward to building upon the collaboration with Leonardo as Era prepares to launch commercial tiltrotor operations across the diverse missions we operate.”
The unique flight characteristics of the AW609 combine the benefits of a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft into one type. The AW609 can take off and land vertically, flying above adverse weather conditions with up to nine people in comfort in a pressurized cabin at twice the speed and range typical of helicopters, representing the next generation of aircraft transport. With the AW609 Leonardo is opening up new possibilities for a wide range of missions including search and rescue, VIP/corporate transport, emergency medical services, offshore transport, and homeland security.
Development leverages the full scope of Leonardo’s global engineering and industrial capabilities with initial deliveries to take place from the company’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, assembly line. Requirements for approximately 50 AW609s have been expressed by operators worldwide to date.