Italy: AW609 Tiltrotor Completes First Test from Aircraft Carrier

Leonardo's AW609 tiltrotor aircraft successfully completed a sea trial, supported by the Italian Navy, with over 1,900 flight hours in its development

Italy: AW609 Tiltrotor Completes First Test from Aircraft Carrier

Photo: Leonardo

The AW609 tiltrotor program has achieved another significant milestone following its first successful shipboard trial, recently conducted with the support of the Italian Navy. Between April 3-12, the AW609 AC4 aircraft, representing the final production configuration, carried out tests from Leonardo's laboratory in Cascina Costa (Samarate) to the Maristaer Grottaglie naval base.

The tiltrotor, along with test pilots and engineers from Leonardo (supported by Italian Navy personnel for onboard operations), took off from the base to the Italian aircraft carrier ITS CAVOUR, positioned about 20 nautical miles off the coast. The AW609, which can comfortably carry up to nine passengers in its pressurized cabin, is designed for various missions. The program development has, so far, accumulated more than 1,900 flight hours in Italy and the United States.

Organizational Collaboration

A significant part of the trial was conducted in a fully synthetic environment using the AW609 simulator in Cascina Costa. Digital twin applications provided an early assessment of the activities and maneuvers, which were later executed in practice for capability development, time reduction, safety, and sustainability. Deck landing and takeoff procedures were performed in more than 15 conditions (including wind conditions), encompassing straight and side approaches, vertical landing, vertical takeoff, and side departure.

The demonstration trials are the latest step taken as part of activities carried out by a joint working group established in 2022, which includes Leonardo, the Italian Navy, the Italian Army, and the Guardia di Finanza (Italian Customs Police).

The working group aims to evaluate the potential of tiltrotor technologies as complementary capabilities to assets already in use among government services, providing rapid long-range capability with vertical takeoff and landing and fast cruising, thanks to the unique pressurized cabin and high-altitude performance of the AW609.

The assessment conducted by the working group will help define the benefits of logistical transportation (vertical takeoff and landing, long-range, rapid point-to-point connection with cruising) and later also for maritime patrol (vertical takeoff and landing, rapid transit to the patrol area, and wider area coverage).

After the first sea trial, Leonardo will begin a detailed evaluation and analysis of the collected data. These will enable further trials if necessary for additional refinement and improvement of the platform for maritime environment operations.


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