LONDON – Leonardo showed off its new tiltrotor in an hour long demonstration for its maiden customer, Bristow Group and its Program Manager for Advanced Air Mobility, Bryan Willows.
The 1-hour flight was for the customer to experience first-hand the new AW609 Tiltrotor’s capabilities and performance. Bristow’s first tiltrotor is now currently under production in Philadelphia.
Bristow Group is an American conglomerate based in Houston, Texas. The company will become the first customer of the AW609 tiltrotor in the United States. The tiltrotor is no stranger to the incumbent Project Manager, as he was a pilot who previously flew the MV-22 Osprey for the U.S Marine Corps.
Throughout the duration of the test flight, the project manager had first-hand experience of flying the unique tiltrotor. The tiltrotor is set to be certified under civilian regulations soon.
Willows spent some time taking simulator courses before flying the real machine. Willows stated: “Flying the AW609 for the first time was an exciting experience and an important milestone for me.”
“The AW609 is an important aircraft as Bristow helps advance vertical flight technology just like we have for the past 70+ years.”
This inaugural test flight will be an important milestone for Leonardo and Bristow Group, as both parties will enjoy being the first mover’s advantage for commercial tiltrotor operations.
The AW609 itself can be configured in many platforms thus giving it flexibility when needed. It could be configured into VIP/Passenger, Transport, Offshore, Utility, emergency medical services (HEMS) and search and rescue. AW609 will be a perfect complement for Bristow Group, as they could easily fit their current fleet composition.
Moreover, Bristow Group will be also collaborating closely beyond the purchase of the tiltrotor, this includes market analysis, maintenance and technical sharing and marketing opportunities. This will benefit both parties as the Bristow Group enjoys the first mover’s advantage flying the tiltrotor.
Talking about the close relationship between the two companies, both enjoy a long relationship dating back 25 years. Bristow has been flying the single-engine AW119, the light twin AW109, intermediate twin AW139, and the AW189 super medium.
The Bristow fleet now consists of 90 helicopters, usually flying on a contract and a charter basis including SAR, EMS and offshore transport across South and North America, Europe and Africa.
The tiltrotor AW609 will surely complement the group’s fleet and this will revolutionise its operations. The rotorcraft has a take-off and landing capability like a helicopter but flies like an aeroplane. Not only the AW609 will benefit Bristow, but also other helicopter or regional airliners.
The machine excels in conducting point-to-point routes, in both short and long ranges. The aircraft can be used by both private, civilian and government operators.
A present, the AW609 programme has accumulated more than 1,700 flight hours in the USA and Italy.