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Wed, Jun 15, 2005

Gear Up! BA609 Program Moves Forward

World's First Civil Tiltrotor Achieves Significant Flight Test Envelope Expansion

The Bell/Agusta 609 completed its first flight with the landing gear up and the proprotor nacelles at 60 degrees in flight testing at the Bell Helicopter Xworx in Arlington, Texas.

"We believe conversion to full airplane mode is only a few flights away," Executive Program Director Don Barbour told reporters at the Paris Air Show.

The first gear up flight for the six to nine passenger tiltrotor was completed Monday, June 13, with Bell/Agusta pilots Roy Hopkins and Pietro Venanzi at the controls. With the nacelles at 60 degrees and gear up the BA609 achieved a top speed Monday of 125 kts.

When the BA609 does achieve full airplane mode conversion it will have a top speed of 275 kts., making it the fastest civil vertical-lift aircraft in the world.

Bell/Agusta is a joint venture between Bell Helicopter, a Textron company and Agusta/Westland. A second aircraft is scheduled to fly before the end of the year.

A total of four test aircraft will be used for the flight test program leading to certification and deliveries in 2008.

FMI: www.bellhelicopter.textron.com, www.bellagusta.com

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