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Heli-Expo 2006 Program Update: BA609 Civil Tiltrotor

Bell/Agusta Aerospace provided ANN with a program update on its BA609, not only the world's first civil tiltrotor aircraft, but is reportedly the fastest civilian VTOL on the planet.

Aircraft 001 continues successful envelope expansion of torsional and aeroelastic stability. Handling qualities are excellent at all conditions tested and all nacelle angles. Gross weights to date range from 13,500lbs to 15,700lbs. Airspeed achieved to date is 277 kcas (319 miles per hour). Altitude achieved so far is 14,500 ft Hp. The BA609 exceeded the planned flight test points for 2005. Measured noise levels are better than expected both internal and external with no added suppression installed. Out side noise is like that of a passing high-end luxury car, internal is the same as a Citation VII. Aircraft 002 is scheduled for first flight by the 3rd quarter of this year in Italy. Total flight hours is 62 and total run time of 162 hours.

Key successes in the initial BA609 certification testing phase included: over 38,000 equivalent flight hours on full scale wing, over 54,000 equivalent flight hours on flaperon, pressurization tests passed for aircraft number 001 to 25,000 feet, and bird strike tests passed for fuselage, wing and tail.

There are currently four planned BA609 flight test aircraft. Aircraft number 001 will remain in Texas for flight-testing, while number 002 is being constructed in Italy. Aircraft number 003 will be used to conduct icing and other certification tests, while aircraft number 004 will be used in certification, test and development work in avionics. Aircraft numbers 003 and 004 are due to be completed in 2007.

Aircraft number 002, which is being constructed in Italy, is schedule for completion and first flight in 2006. At that time, flight-testing will continue in tandem in the US and Italy.

To date, the BA609 order book stands at approximately 60 aircraft orders. Results of an in depth market analysis, including customer interviews show the market continues to be excited about the unique value and mission possibilities the 609 will bring to short-haul commercial air transportation. And our customer confidence has remained high throughout our development phase. BA609 tiltrotor promises to be a growth alternative for the market, allowing mission profiles and scenarios not previously possible with conventional airplanes or helicopters.

The BA609, a six to nine passenger aircraft, has market applications for corporate business, offshore operators and government customers for a variety of roles including search and rescue, and internal security team insertion. The BA609 will cruise at 275 knots with a maximum un-refueled range of over 700 nautical miles. The aircraft in standard configuration is fully pressurized and de-iced. Hence, the BA609 will provide a new, unique choice for aviation: twice as fast, twice as far as previous typical commercial VTOL aircraft, and at competitive lifecycle costs compared to alternative mixed fleets.

The BA609 has the new Collins ProLine 21 3-screen display glass cockpit as standard, and will be certified for IFR flight in known icing conditions. BA609 tiltrotor customer training will be conducted at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, which will also serve as the initial tiltrotor delivery center.

Bell/Agusta Aerospace Company is a joint venture corporation that markets and supports the BA609 civil tiltrotor. The BA609 features extended range and speed compared to traditional VTOL aircraft.

FMI: www.bellagustaaerospace.com


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