An early photo of the AW609 tilt-rotor prototype (Image © AgustaWestland)

UAE orders AW609 tiltrotor days after fatal crash

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ordered three AW609 tiltrotor aircraft, with an option for three more. The order was placed during the Dubia Air Show and comes ten days after the fatal crash of an AW609 during a test flight in Italy. AgustaWestland has stated the crash occured during a high speed test.

The UAE announcement took many by surprise, as an order for Bell V-22 Osprey tiltrotors seemed much more likely. The UAE will use the AW609s for search and rescue missions, along with AW139 helicopters already in use. Deliveries are to start in four years from now.

The AW609 that crashed was nearing the end of its test program, with 567 hours flown already. The impact on the test program is not yet known. In a statement released earlier this week, AgustaWestland’s parent company Finmeccanica said it is fully committed to mitigating any delay the accident, and the subsequent investigation, might have on the program itself.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest