Italian aerospace and defense company Leonardo has presented its revolutionary AW609 tiltrotor for the first time in the region at the 2021 Dubai Airshow this month. The company expects the aircraft to be certified by the FAA in 2022, almost two decades after it first flew.
The AW609 is an impressive feat of engineering, with its ability to change the position of its two rotors in less than 60 seconds. It can take off vertically like a helicopter while performing in-flight like an airplane.
The aircraft is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67A turboshaft engines, sitting inside their own nacelles on each side of the aircraft. Thanks to the turboshaft engines, the AW609 can fly at over 500 km/h (311 mph). It has a range of almost 1,400 km (870 miles). The speed increases to over 2,000 km (1,242 miles) with auxiliary tanks.
The unconventional eVTOL aircraft is designed to carry out a variety of missions, from passenger transport and medical care to civil protection and search and rescue. It can carry two crew and nine passengers or 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) of cargo. In addition, it is highly configurable, and in extreme situations, up to 12 people can climb on board.
Capable of flying at 25,000 ft and into known icing conditions, the AW609 won’t let bad weather ruin your travel plans. The AW609’s cabin offers a variety of VIP seating options to allow up to eight passengers, with a 5 ft (1.52 m) high aisle to ensure easy access. Made largely of high-strength composite materials, the entire tiltrotor weighs enough to be included in the 8-ton class.
Leonardo has so far built four prototypes of the AW609. It is currently developing two production versions of the aircraft, as well as a training academy for pilots to learn how to fly the unusual aircraft.