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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: BA609--Anywhere a Helo Goes

Bell Helicopter and AgustaWestland officials on the BA609 civil tilt-rotor program are less concerned these days about building infrastructure for rotorcraft operations in the United States and other key markets.

BA609 leaders in the past have pointed to the need for a more concerted industry effort to preserve and expand the network of heliports and helipads, in part by persuading the public of the value of rotorcraft to communities. Central-city heliports are critical to the success of the BA609; its combined advantages of vertical lift and fixed-wing turboprop-like speed shrink if passengers must commute from an outlying airport instead of landing close by business districts. Corporate operators are a key market for the aircraft.

BA609 officials today say that, while there is an industry-wide need for more heliports and pads, the civil tilt-rotor doesn’t need special considerations. Their position is the aircraft can operate from any place a helicopter can. Their focus is on helping individual customers inform local officials and neighbors about the flight characteristics of the BA609.

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