The AW609, the first tilt-rotor aircraft developed for the civilian market (Image © AgustaWestland)

Disaster for AgustaWestland AW609 tilt rotor

Disaster struck the AgustaWestland AW609 tilt rotor program on Friday 30 October, as the prototype aircraft chrashed near Piemonte in Italy. Two test pilots died in the crash. The crash is a major setbback for the program that is aimed at developing the first tilt rotor aircraft for the civilian market.

The AgustaWestland AW609 first flew on 6 March 2003 in Arlington, Texas. The aircraft shares its roots with the Bell V-22 Osprey. Two prototypes were in use until today, with two more on the way.

The tilt rotor concept remains a challenge for developers and engineers. The V-22’s development was also troubled by crashes and complex engineering problems.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest