Heli-Expo 2011: AgustaWestland to take over BA609 tiltrotor project
AgustaWestland has revealed it is in final negotiations to finally take full control of the long delayed BA609 civilian tiltrotor programme.
CEO Giuseppi Orsi said Bell Helicopter now wanted to divest itself of the civilian tiltrotor project to concentrate on developing its product line. However, negotiations between the two parties had been frustrated over property rights to the tiltrotor technology, which is also used on the V-22 Osprey.
Speaking to reporters at Heli-Expo in Orlando, Orsi said: We wanted full control of the aircraft and Bell has agreed,' adding, 'We hope to complete the negotiations in the next few months.'
Negotiations now hinge on the transfer of technologies used on both the 609 and the V-22 from Bell to AgustaWestland and the company is keen to point out there is no animosity between the two partners.
Observers have long speculated that AgustaWestland would take over the long-suffering programme. Negotiations about its future have been ongoing for nearly two years, bringing flight testing of the aircraft down to a snail's pace with the two prototypes flying only a handful of hours since the beginning of the year.
However, AgustaWestland say that once the negotiations have been completed it will push ahead with the programme and complete the second two prototypes which are still being built. Bell would continue to be a supplier to the project, and one of the four flight test aircraft would remain in the United States with the other three being based in Italy.
'We still believe the tiltrotor is the solution for the future,' explained Orsi.
'Going faster and flying higher are now key issues for the industry and we believe the tiltrotor is still the most credible technology and we are continuing to push into that,' he added.
This is not the first time Bell will have divested itself of a joint programme with Agusta, Bell also sold its share of the AB139, now the AW139, in November 2005. The AW139 is now AgustaWestland's most popular product - orders of the type represented some 9.5% of the company's revenue in 2010 and is now being developed further with the stretched AW149.
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