AW609 tiltrotor, with composite primary structures, completes ground testing

The AgustaWestland AW609 TiltRotor is a carbon fiber composites-intensive aircraft that is expected to enter the market in 2018.

Leonardo-Finmeccanica (Rome, Italy) has announced that the third prototype (A/C3) of the AgustaWestland AW609 TiltRotor has completed its first ground run at the company’s facilities in Cascina Costa, Italy, marking a critical milestone as the program advances its testing and plans a resumption of flight testing activities.

According to, the AW609 uses Toray Composites (America) Inc. (Takoma, WA, US) 3900-2 series highly toughened epoxy prepregs, including T800H intermediate modulus carbon fiber (CF), as well as standard modulus unidirectional CF and glass fiber, in its primary structures. Dynamold Inc. (Ft. Worth, TX, US) supplies epoxy prepreg shim materials.

Aircraft AW609 A/C3 began restrained ground run testing with all engines and systems operating. These tests prepare the prototype for US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification flight testing this summer at the company’s Philadelphia facility, where it will demonstrate that its capabilities satisfy a stringent set of airworthiness standards. Taking off and landing vertically, the AW609 is capable of flying within an envelope that includes cruise conditions up to 275 knots, at an altitude of 25,000 ft in a pressurized cabin, for missions with ranges up to 1000 nm with available fuel options.

Testing plans for the A/C3 also include icing trials in the winter of 2016 to demonstrate its capabilities in known icing conditions. These high-standard design features allow the AW609 to perform a host of missions not previously achievable with any other commercial aircraft.

The ground run of the third prototype followed a restarting of test activities of the first prototype (A/C1) on April 15. The fourth prototype A/C4 is undergoing assembly in Philadelphia, PA, US, with plans to enter the test fleet in 2017. Certification of the first commercial tiltrotor is expected in 2018, with deliveries to customers to follow.