The civilian tilt-rotor aircraft is moving forward. AgustaWestland announced on 24 April 2014 it has completed the auto-rotation trials for its AW609 successfully.
Between the end of March and early 10 April test pilots executed more than 70 power-off conversions from airplane mode to helicopter mode, flown from the Arlington facility in Texas, USA. The tests were flown under auspices of FAA and covered the full wind-milling and auto-rotation envelopes. The idea is in case of power failure the aircraft can still make an automated safe landing.
The test were not only meant to move the plane’s development further, it also gives input for the full flight simulator the company has planned to make for future commercial AW609 pilots. Once all tests are completed AgustaWestland is confident the Federal Aviation Authority will give the AW609 a full type certification.
So far the military Bell/Boeing MV/CV-22 Osprey is the only large-scale produced machine that can fly like an aircraft and lands/takes off as a helicopter. More than 160 are flying at the moment, mostly with the US Air Force and US Marines. However, the concept of tilt-rotor is very old, with Nazi-Germany trying to develop its Focke-Achgelis FA-269 as early in 1942. It never flew, but the American made Transcendental Model 1-G did, marking the first tilt-rotor flight in June 1954 – ebbing the way of decades of development of the technically challenging way of make this way of flying safe.
Source: AgustaWestland with additional reporting by AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger