Bristow Group stages demonstrator flight of AW609 Tiltrotor


Bristow Group has staged the inaugural US demonstration flight of the AW609 Tiltrotor. The 60-minute flight, which took place in Philadelphia on May 11th, is a step towards bringing the Tiltrotor into service next year.

The operator is working with manufacturer Leonardo to finalise mission capabilities, assess  operational parameters, regulations, maintenance, configuration optimisation and areas for improvements or modifications.

At the controls of the Tiltrotor was Bryan Willows, Bristow program manager for Advanced Air Mobility. “Flying the AW609 for the first time was an exciting experience and important milestone for me,” said Willows, who previously flew the MV-22 Osprey for the US Marine Corps. “The AW609 is an important aircraft as Bristow helps advance vertical flight technology just like we have for the past 70 plus years.”

The AW609 can carry up to nine passengers in its pressurised cabin. The AW609 is designed to perform various missions, including VIP/passenger transport, offshore/utility, emergency medical services (EMS), and search and rescue (SAR). The first Bristow AW609 is in the final stages of production on the new final assembly line in Philadelphia.

“The AW609 will revolutionize air transport thanks to its rotorcraft-like versatility and airplane-like performance,” according to Leonardo. “The AW609 excels at providing fast point-to-point transportation at long ranges, whether connecting city centres or providing timely access to remote locations.” The Tiltrotor programme has logged more than 1700 flight hours in US and Italy. AW609 users will be provided with support and training packages, mainly based at Leonardo’s new Training Academy in Philadelphia. Opened in 2021, it is home to the world’s first AW609 full-flight simulator. Before his flight, Willows experienced the aircraft’s ground handling characteristics and underwent advanced flight simulation.

Bristow’s partnership with Leonardo dates back 25 years, with the operator flying the AW119 single engine, AW109 light twin, AW139 intermediate twin, and the AW189 super medium. Bristow’s fleet of Leonardo helicopters includes 90 aircraft, today carrying out offshore transport, SAR, and EMS flights across North and South America, Europe, and Africa.


AW609 tiltrotor – at a glance

  • Max gross weight: 8t
  • Useful load: +2,721kg (6,000lbs)
  • Powerplant: two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67A engines
  • Capacity: Two crew, nine passengers or 12 passengers for high density use
  • Max cruise speed: 500km/hr (270ktas)
  • Max range: 1,389/1,852km with aux. fuel (700/1,000m)
  • Service ceiling: 7,620m (25,000ft).

Top: Bristow staged the inaugural US demonstration flight of the AW609 Tiltrotor in May. At the controls for the 60-minute flight was former US Marine Corps Osprey pilot. Bryan Willows. Above: The AW609 is designed to perform a range of missions including: Search and rescue, VIP/passenger transport, offshore/utility and EMS.