AgustaWestland touts tilt-rotor aircraft

March 5, 2013 at 2:37 PM

YEOVIL, England, March 5 (UPI) -- British-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland has unveiled an all-electric tilt-rotor technology demonstrator.

The "Project Zero" demonstrator hovers like a helicopter and converts to a fixed-wing aircraft in forward flight using integrated rotors that can tilt through more than 90 degrees.

"The 'Project Zero' technology demonstrator program brings together many of the advanced technologies AgustaWestland has been researching in recent years and demonstrates our strong technological base from which we will develop new products to meet the needs of our customers in the future," said AgustaWestland Chief Executive Officer Daniele Romiti.

"We strongly believe in the tilt-rotor concept as the future of high-speed rotorcraft flight as it offers much greater speed and range than compound helicopter technology."

AgustaWestland said the demonstrator's rotors are driven by electric motors powered by rechargeable batteries and that future hybrid solutions have been investigated using a diesel engine to drive a generator.

All of the aircraft control systems, flight control and landing gear actuators are electrically powered.

The aircraft's electrical storage device, the company added, can be recharged on the ground while the rotors are running by tilting the rotors forward and into the wind and allowing them to windmill.

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