EASA certification directorate staff members flew the Leonardo AW609 civil tiltrotor in Cascina Costa di Samarate, Italy, on March 16 and 17 as part of its first round of familiarization activities for the aircraft program. These flights follow FAA pre-type inspection authorization (TIA) flights on February 22 in Philadelphia. Leonardo said both sets of flights constitute “an important step forward in the final stages of the certification process” and set “the right pace on the validation process, together with the FAA certification path.”

Earlier this month, Leonardo reported that the AW609 civil tiltrotor had reached the “final stages of certification” as the FAA prepares to initiate formal TIA flight tests. Along with the test fleet, three customer AW609s remain in final assembly. However, under questioning, managing director Gian Piero Cutillo admitted that an order for four AW609s from an unnamed European customer, announced at last year’s Heli-Expo, was the largest contract it had received for the type. Company officials have declined to reveal details concerning the aircraft’s total order book, likely pricing, or precise timetable for certification.

While Leonardo is noncommittal on estimating a certification date for the AW609, Leonardo emergency medical services specialist Sam Schaab said he expects it to occur “relatively quickly.” The company is marketing the aircraft for a variety of missions, including air ambulance applications.


Source AIN Online