Tilt-rotor aircraft, which can take off like a helicopter and fly like an airplane, have already proven their worth in military use. Now AgustaWestland is developing the first one aimed at the civilian aircraft market. The executive version of the AgustaWestland AW609 TiltRotor (formerly known as the Bell/Agusta BA609) will carry up to nine passengers in a pressurized cabin, and promises to reduce point-to-point travel time for many trips. Tilt-rotors are considerably faster than helicopters and can travel longer distances without stopping. In horizontal flight, the twin-engine turboprop aircraft is capable of reaching a top speed of 275 mph and an altitude ceiling of up to 25,000 feet, and it has a range of 750 miles The company says the aircraft often will be the quickest way to travel over distances between 57 and 575 miles.
A modern cockpit operated by a two-pilot crew is equipped with fly-by-wire controls and Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics. About 60 aircraft are already on order, with deliveries expected to start in 2017. AgustaWestland has not yet announced a price, but it is expected to be around $24 million. The company is based in Italy, but tilt-rotors for the U.S. market will be built and serviced at the company’s Philadelphia manufacturing facility. (finmeccanica.com)