Leonardo announced today that they are flight testing their third AW609 TiltRotor aircraft (AC3) and will soon be sending it to Marquette, Michigan for testing and evaluation in cold weather and icing conditions.

The first version of the TiltRotor aircraft (AC1) has been sent back to Italy for modifications while a fourth AW609 is currently being built at the Leonardo facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Leonardo is planning to start manufacturing production models at the same facility in Philadelphia and hopes to earn FAA certification for the AW609 in 2018.

Watch the Leonardo AW609 TiltRotor aircraft in action

To date, AC3 has performed several weeks of unrestrained ground testing and, more recently, flight trials that allowed avionics and all systems to be fully tested. During initial flights, the aircraft performed basic hovering and maneuvering and patterns around the airport, concluding with hover landing. Additional flights up to 4,000 feet with short takeoff and landing (STOL) are planned shortly in AC3.

The rotorcraft manufacturer said it has current customer commitments for “nearly” 60 AW609s, including three from the UAE Joint Aviation Command, as well as development agreements in place with Bristow and Era for offshore and EMS variants, respectively. Leonardo has yet to disclose a price for its civil tiltrotor. – AINonline

Leonardo states the AW609 has a range of between 750 and 1100 nautical miles depending on the fuel tank configuration, a maximum speed of 275 knots, a pressurized cabin with room for nine and a fly by wire flight control system.

The tiltrotor aircraft can be configured for multiple uses including passenger transport, search and rescue, law enforcement, and maritime surveillance.

Photo by Leonardo

Featured image of AW609 by Leonardo