HeliExpo Day 2 News - AW609 to enter production

HeliExpo is underway! Today was day one to the Public, here’s some news from HeliExpo 2019, any new announcement from day 1 I’ll update!


Enstrom Helicopters delivers newest Enstrom to a French trainer

Enstrom Helicopter Corporation was pleased to deliver their newest 280FX to the French training company, Golf Tango at Heli-Expo in Atlanta. Gérard Taunay, founder of Golf Tango was on hand, along with François Gatineau, CEO of Rotor and Aircraft, the Enstrom dealer in France.

This new 280FX will be operated from Golf Tango’s main base at Toussus le Noble but also from their secondary base of Le Havre in Normandy for tourist flights. Heli-Club of Paris, which is a group of fanatic PPL will also enjoy that 280FX for their private flights. Between these two entities, and with the help of the Enstrom dealer, Rotor & Aircraft the goal is to promote Enstrom Helicopters in the Paris area but also nationwide.


MD offering winged NOTAR aircraft for U.S. Army FARA program

MD Helicopters Inc. (MDHI) is developing a NOTAR-equipped aircraft with a wing for the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Competitive Prototype (FARA CP) program, Lynn Tilton, the company’s CEO, has announced.
In a wide-ranging media briefing at Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo, Tilton said the aircraft — to be known as the Swift — would be a further evolution of the twin-engine MD 969 on display at the manufacturer’s booth at the show.

Swift will be a fully composite aircraft, with a wing and more powerful engines, she said. The NOTAR anti-torque system would have more fans and provide more thrust than that of the MD 902/969, she added, but would be narrower.

An accelerated design and development phase will see a prototype built in nine months, said Tilton, and the aircraft would be capable of reaching 200 knots.

The MD 969 Combat Helicopter is itself an evolution of the MD 900/902 series, featuring a three-display instrument flight rules-approved Genesys Aerosystems IDU-680 glass cockpit. MDHI hopes to have the IDU-680 certified by the end of this year.

The 969 is on display at Heli-Expo with a “weapons plant”” that allows for up to six weapons stations within the cabin, and seating for up to eight (including two pilots).

In terms of its performance, MDHI said the 969 will have a 6,770-pound maximum gross takeoff weight, with a useful load of 3,395 pounds, and a range of 422 miles. With FARA performance improvements, the company said the 969 would be capable of a cruise speed of 160 knots and a maximum speed of 180 knots.

“This will be a lethal machine,” said Tilton. “It’s just going to carry enough weaponry that it makes it as lethal as a Black Hawk — and that’s because it’s designed with so much stability, a great center of gravity, and the empty gross weight. . . I think it is just the missing link of what we already have in the light attack space.”

Tilton added that the company’s focus this year would be on bringing the 969 to the marketplace, with the development of Swift behind it.

“It’s very hard to take an aircraft that’s been built for 140 knots and turn it into a 200-knot aircraft,” she said. “It’s the research and development on this system [the 969] that is taking us to that system [Swift]. But we put the money away, we’ve got a plan and hopefully next year we’ll have [Swift] here [at Heli-Expo].” So far Airbus, Boeing and Sikorsky hve invested in this program.


Airbus helicopters accept new customers to North America’s newest simulator training facility

Chris Emerson, Airbus Helicopters, Inc. President and Head of North America Region, and Jean-Charles de Troy, Managing Director of HELISIM, welcome the first customers to receive the simulator training at the new regional training center located in Grand Prairie. Helisim is a Joint Venture between Airbus Helicopters, Thales, and DCI providing high-end simulation training services for pilots. The customers include the law enforcement agency Texas Department of Public Safety, air medical provider Med-Trans Corporation, and Pathfinder Aviation.


Robinson Helicopter continues to conduct research and development on powering its four-seat R44 Raven II with a diesel engine.

Though the helicopter is currently powered by a Lycoming IO-540 fuel injected engine, there may be performance benefits and practical uses for installing a diesel engine, said Kurt Robinson, the company’s president and chairman, at the HAI Heli-Expo conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Peter Riedl, our head engineer, thinks about it every day,” he says. “We are pushing forward on it. We are still in R&D.”

Company engineers are convinced it could be a good improvement or option for the R44, though they are not yet ready to create a new product, says Robinson. Thus far, the company only has performed ground runs with a diesel configuration. Robinson declined to name the desiel engines being tested.

“There’s issues regarding heat, regarding vibration,” says Robinson.
Nonetheless, there are enticing benefits to diesel.

“It allows a couple thousand feet of altitude performance,” he said.

Compared to gasoline engines, diesel engines perform better at higher altitude because they need less oxygen for combustion. In addition, there are other benefits, he says.

“Right now, on a [R44] Raven II you are burning about 16 gallons an hour of fuel and a diesel you are talking like 12 gallons an hour.”

What’s more, diesel is a plentiful and commonly found fuel, even outside airports.

“There are lots of places in the world, where av’ gas is hard to get. It’s very difficult to get,” says Robinson.


Leonardo focusing on first delivery of AW609 as it enters mass production

Leonardo is focusing on the first delivery of the AW609 tiltrotor in 2020, as the aircraft enters the mass production phase at Leonardo’s Philadelphia facility. The company said airframe components of the tiltrotor will enter the assembly phase in the coming weeks, ahead of the AW609 receiving Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) civil certification.

“I think [the AW609 program] has made a lot of progress,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, Leonardo Helicopters’ managing director, at a press conference during HAI Heli-Expo 2019. “We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are now focusing on delivery next year of the first 609.”

The company also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at Heli-Expo with Nakanihon Air Service, Co., Ltd. of Japan to study the requirements for introducing the AW609 tiltrotor into service in the country.

Leonardo is deploying a global campaign for the world’s first multi-role commercial tiltrotor, and will work with Nakanihon Air Service over the next 12 months to identify opportunities for the 609 in Japan.

Leonardo said it is offering the AW609 for a range of roles such as emergency medical services, search-and-rescue, and transport. “Some of [the AW609 missions] will be offshore-related, but not uniquely related to the oil-and-gas specific operations,” added Roberto Garavaglia, senior vice president of competitive analysis and strategy at Leonardo.

“At Nakanihon Air Service we operate about 80 aircraft, both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, and we are very interested in the new tiltrotor category,” the company said in a press release. “Through this joint working group with Leonardo, we would like to explore the applications of the AW609 to future aeromedical services, disaster emergency response and news coverage as well as new areas of business.”

The 609 tiltrotor has a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) and can fly at an altitude of 25,000 feet. It also features a pressurized cabin for patient comfort during medical treatment in the air.

Leonardo has also started production of the world’s first AW609 tiltrotor Level D full-flight simulator (FFS), which is being developed in collaboration with CAE, Inc. Cutillo added that Leonardo is planning to build a FSS in Philadelphia for the AW169 in early 2020 – which would be the first AW169 FFS in the U.S.

The AW609 and AW169 simulators will be housed at Leonardo’s new 60,000-square-foot Helicopter Training Academy in Philadelphia, which is currently being developed; the new training academy will have maintenance training bays, virtual enhanced training devices, and classrooms in addition to the Level D full-flight simulators.

Cutillo also said the company is continuing development of the Clean Sky 2 NextGen Tiltrotor. “We expect to fly a demonstrator by 2023, [and] in its final configuration we expect to fly it in the 2030-35 period.”

The next-gen tiltrotor is larger than the nine-seat AW609, as it will hold 20 passengers.


Excellent, very detailed. Could you include some sources please? Other than that it looks amazing, great job.

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Enstrom news came from Enstrom
MD joining the FARA program is from MD
Airbus training came from Airbus. All can be found on their press releases

Ok. I was more thinking you could include links to the sources underneath the individual articles but that’s fine - maybe for next time.

Sure I can find them for you.
Enstrom hasn’t posted on their website yet


Same as Enstrom.

Robinson announces Diesel engine for the 44

Why diesel? Not av gas or gasoline?

It’s cheaper to run, and better to maintain

Just about all aviation diesel engines run off of Jet A. Jet A across the country runs quite a bit cheaper than your typical 100LL or 100 octane fuel. Sometimes it can cost as much as a $1 less than avgas. Multiply that by an aircraft that could carry up to 200 gallons of fuel and you’re saving a bunch of dough.


New story - Leonardo focusing on first delivery of AW609 as it enters mass production

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