Guinea Pigs….

AW609, previously known as the BA609.

KUALA LUMPUR: Since we are so fond of being Guinea Pigs, dont you think the BA609 is arguably the better choice for MMEA? It can hover and land like a helicopter but also has high dash speed, faster than any rotor craft around. And as the Press release, it is also aimed at the same market as the CL415.

Dont get me wrong, I am not advocating the 609 over the 415s (we should be looking for cheaper options) , but since we are paying premium price for an untested piece of kit, dont you think we should be going for the latest and greatest?

Press release from AgustaWestland (highlights are mine)

Bell/Agusta Unveils BA609 SAR Variant

As the most advanced rotorcraft technology innovation that will revolutionize vertical flight in the forthcoming future, the BA609 Tiltrotor features an unparalleled combination of high performance and maximum flexibility which makes it a perfect platform for a variety of Government support roles such as SAR (Search and Rescue) operations, Homeland Security missions, Special Forces insertion/extraction , border and maritime patrol, vertical fleet support/patrolling, head of state transport, Emergency response, evacuation, interdiction , disaster relief, airborne command and control, and training, etc.

Users can leverage on the BA609 unique capability to dispatch quickly, hover mid-mission, and rescue people at more than 300 miles (500 km) from the coast providing extended border management and coverage with existing bases. At a cruise speed up to 275 knots (510 km/h) with a maximum unrefuelled range of 700 nautical miles (950 nautical miles with auxiliary fuel tanks), the Tiltrotor is able to search for and reach the target at twice the speed of conventional rotorcraft reducing the typical helicopter mission time by 44%. The BA609 may descend directly from 25,000 feet to a rescue scene at sea level, into a hover, for hoist recovery of up to 6 people — unlike any other aircraft. The BA609 can be provided with a tailored configuration for SAR missions. A complete range of SAR equipment including rescue hoist, litters, health care tools, basket & pump, and the standard SAR avionics suite such as search/weather radar, FLIR/LLTV, NVG compatible cockpit, and other customized equipment requested by the customer. The BA609 configuration can be quickly changed to transport up to 12 people, in addition to pilot and co-pilot.

The BA609 is designed to fly into known icing conditions. Furthermore, the Tiltrotor ensures maximum operational flexibility with shipboard compatibility for naval applications with vertical take-off and landing in helicopter mode on common Coast Guard or Navy vessels and it is compatible with existing 3 to 11 ton class flight decks. This extends the basic maximum projection range further exploiting the already impressive BA609’s characteristics. With the quietest flyover noise signature of any VTOL, with very efficient fuel economy, the BA609 Tiltrotor offers an ECO-friendly set of operating characteristics allowing improving success in many Government Support roles. Exclusive performance, versatility and productivity enable the BA609 to compete for many existing requirements, overcoming the inherent limits of helicopters and airplanes, and proving an unprecedented ideal solution to cost-effectively replace mixed fixed/rotor-winged fleets. More than 80 BA609 units have been ordered so far by approximately 40 customers, (including government agencies), in over 20 countries).


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