Agustawestland AW609 Icing Trial, pic: aircraft on banking phase
Agustawestland AW609 Icing Trial. Ice-making trials will soon begin on Leonardo’s Helicopter Division helicopter AW609, as the program recovers from a nearly one-year flight test hiatus caused by a fatal accident of the second prototype in October 2015.
The third prototype aircraft will soon be moving from Philadelphia to Marquette on top of the Michigan peninsula to validate the performance of the AW609 flight in known ice conditions, Leonardo says Feb. 9.
The winter test round will keep the civilian tilt-rotor program on track to receive the United States Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness certification in 2018.
The AW609 is the first fly-by-wire helicopter to request a commercial airworthiness certificate.
An interim investigation report released last June by Italy’s ANSV blamed failed failed control logic of 2015 that reacted incorrectly to an unusual maneuver on the extreme boundary of the AW609’s velocity envelope.
The accident left Leonardo with the first prototype in Philadelphia and the third prototype in Italy. After the flight tests resumed last year, the two planes changed places. The third prototype has since resumed flight routes to find avionics and systems, performing basic dump, landing flight, and maneuvering around the airport in northeastern Philadelphia. The “soon” prototype will perform short takeoffs and will rise to 4,000 feet, says Leonardo.
Leonardo is also working on the fourth prototype AW609, which has moved to the Philadelphia plant’s main production area to “ensure a smooth transition to the first production of construction aircraft” in 2018, the company adds.