Icing tests for the prototype Leonardo AW609 tilt-rotor aircraft are scheduled to take place in Michigan this winter, the company confirmed on 9 February. The tests will ensure the AW609 can fly in known icing conditions and reach operational standards not currently available in any other commercial aircraft.

The third prototype, based at Leonardo’s facility in Philadelphia, recently conducted several weeks of unrestrained ground testing and flight trials that allowed avionics and all systems to be fully tested. During initial flights, the aircraft performed basic hovering and manoeuvring and patterns around the airport, concluding with vertical landing. Additional STOL flights up to altitudes of 4,000ft are planned shortly.

The fourth prototype is now located within the main production area of the Philadelphia facility’s assembly line to ensure a smooth transition to the first production build aircraft which, along with FAA certification, is planned for 2018.

Although the main market foreseen for the AW609 is commercial (variants for offshore and emergency medical missions are under development), the UAE Joint Aviation Command intends to procure three examples. (Photo: Leonardo)

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