I have been following this project since 2010 when I first learned about it. Leonardo Augstawestland has announced that the 609 will be in production THIS WEEK!
The company says it will start building the first AW609 production model this week at its factory in Philadelphia.
If all goes as planned, the AW609 will gain Federal Aviation Administration certification by the end of this year and enter service sometime in 2020. Seating nine passengers and two crew, these unique hybrids fly thanks to turboprop propeller engines on the ends of each wing. Each engine swivels up or down, depending on whether the aircraft is hovering, landing, taking off or cruising across the sky.
The AW609 will be the first civilian Tilt Rotor out there, the AW609 took it’s first flight in 2003, unfortunately some accidents have happed. On 30 October 2015, the second of the two prototypes (N609AG), which first flew in 2006, crashed near AgustaWestland’s Vergiate facility in North West Italy, killing long-time test pilots Pietro Venanzi and Herb Mora, the aircraft broke up in midair after 27 minutes of flight, on a flight plan that included high speed testing. Investigators consider the most likely cause to be changes in flight control laws and tail changes. These led to a “Dutch roll” instability while diving at 293 kn where previously only 285 knts had been achieved. After the accident the Italians did seize one of the AW609s which is back flying.
The AW609 market will be for Medivac, Offshore Oil Operations and SAR. The cost of the AW609 will between $4 to $9 million dollars.