It has been a long road, but rotorcraft manufacturer Leonardo is making steady progress towards the certification of the AW609, the first civil tiltrotor. Like the V-22 Osprey it is descended from, the twin-rotor aircraft has had an extended gestation period.
In 1998 Leonardo, then known as Agusta joined with Bell on the BA609 project. In 2011, it bought out Bell to bring the 609 entirely in-house. Since then the airframer has flown and tested four of the tiltrotors. The fifth unit or P-5, recently rolled off the production line at its U.S. production facility in Philadelphia. That aircraft will be used for indirect effect of lightning tests prior to its first flight.
During a recent visit to the site by AIN, AC6, the first delivery aircraft destined for launch customer Bristow, was seen on the production line awaiting the mating of its wing to the fuselage. It has since been joined by the airframe of AC7.