CASCINA COSTA DI SAMARATE, Italy, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Italy's AgustaWestland reports it has finalized acquisition of the 609 tiltrotor program from Bell Helicopter Textron of Texas.
All legal and regulatory approvals have been completed, AgustaWestland said, and development is moving forward under full AgustaWestland control.
The 609 is a twin-engine turboprop with the vertical takeoff and landing capabilities of a helicopter. AgustaWestland said it expects the aircraft to gain civil certification in late 2015 or early 2016.
The first two 609 prototypes have achieved more than 600 flight hours. The aircraft can fly as high as 25,000 feet and cruise at speeds of as much as 316 mph.
AgustaWestland said a third prototype is being built and will be devoted to certification testing. A fourth prototype will be used for the development and integration of new avionics.
AgustaWestland said it plans equip the aircraft with a new generation satellite-based navigation system and mission avionics for all-weather operations and increased operational capabilities.
AgustaWestland announced the acquisition of ownership of the program in June. Bell/Agusta Aerospace Co. will be renamed and will remain a U.S. company and be totally owned by AgustaWestland.