AW609 has new customer and expected to debut in 2023

Leonardo’s tiltrotor aircraft could be FAA certified by early next year, paving the way for its highly anticipated commercial debut

Leonardo announced another customer for the AW609, the world’s first civil tiltrotor aircraft. According to the company, a European helicopter operator has acquired four aircraft that will be used in VIP transport.

The name of the customer was not revealed, but the Italian manufacturer says it is a long-established company in the market.

“Generally, we’re convinced, more than ever, that the AW609 will truly revolutionize point-to-point connections and other air operations, providing a major contribution as the use of air space evolves further,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director Leonardo Helicopters.

Leonardo credited the success of the deal to the AW609’s appearance at an official presentation in Dubai late last year, “which marked the global commercial launch of the revolutionary multirole aircraft as it gets closer to the world’s first civil certification for a tiltrotor.”

The AW609 tiltrotor (Leonardo)

The program, which has been going on for many years, is at a decisive moment as the FAA (US Federal Aviation Agency) is expected to certify the aircraft between the end of the year and the beginning of 2023.

It will then be the end of a long wait of 27 years. In 1996, Boeing and Bell began development of the world’s first civil tiltrotor, an aircraft capable of operating like helicopters but offering a much faster cruise flight of 500 km/h.

Agusta (now part of Leonardo) came on the scene in 1998 and gradually took over the project.

Currently, the first series-production AW609 is conducting ground tests in the US while the second is being assembled at the Philadelphia plant, where the aircraft’s training center and flight simulator are located.

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