Civilian tilt rotor craft shows its abilities

Star of the just held Farnborough International event in our opinion was the BA609 tilt rotor aircraft developed by the Bell Agusta Aerospace company

, a joint venture between Bell Helicopter Textron and Agusta Westland.

Developed from the V-22 Osprey military tilt rotor machine, which had a long and difficult development process including several crashes, the BA609 showed itself to be extremely manoeuvrable, as intended, and to be able to change its engines and propellers from horizontal mode to vertical hovering mode in less than a minute. It was also very quiet in level flight, compared to a helicopter, although it produced typical helicopter beat noises in hover mode. It also demonstrated its ability to partially tilt the rotors forward for fast helicopter flight mode.

The machine can carry 6 to 9 passengers or a 2500kg payload. Certification is expected to be achieved in 2011 and the company claims to have received nearly 80 orders. Price tag is around $10 million.

Tom Shelley

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