The Leonardo AW609 tiltrotor has flown its first ship trial campaign, completed with the support of the Italian Navy.

Flown from April 3 to 12, the campaign ultimately saw the AW609 fly 20 nautical miles offshore and land on the aircraft carrier Cavour — the flagship of the Italian Navy.

Leonardo said it performed deck landings and take-off procedures in 15 different conditions, with the AW609 flying straight-in and lateral approaches, vertical landings, vertical take-offs, and lateral exits.

The manufacturer used AC4 — which is fully representative of the type’s final production configuration — for the demonstration, which began with an inital test campaign using the AW609 development/engineering simulator at Leonardo’s Cascina Costa facility.

The program team tested the various activities and maneuvers in the simulator that they would later perform in the real aircraft — work that Leonardo said helped save time and enhanced safety, sustainability, and capability.

The aircraft was then relocated from Cascina Costa to Maristaer Grottaglie Naval Base in southern Italy for the demonstration flights. These were flown with test pilots and flight test engineers from Leonardo, and supported by Italian Navy personnel for the embarked operations.

“The recent ship trials in Italy . . . represent an important step towards the development of government applications as we reinforce our position to lead tiltrotor-based initiatives internationally and to meet future emerging requirements,” said Lorenzo Mariani, co-general manager of Leonardo.

The manufacturer said it has begun a detailed evaluation and analysis of the data collected during the ship trials, and that this may allow possible follow-on trials to better refine approaches and drive platform enhancements for ship-based operations.

“The success of these trials set a major capability demonstration milestone to show the unique advantages of tiltrotors, and particularly that of the AW609, through a combination of high performance and versatility, which remains unmatched in the vertical flight sector,” said Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters.

“This experience provides an important opportunity to appreciate benefits that can truly revolutionise a range of missions or even open new operational possibilities.”

Leonardo said the AW609 program has flown over 1,900 flight hours in various trials and demonstrations to date.

The trials are the latest activity completed under a joint working group, established in 2022, that is exploring the potential use of tiltrotor technologies in government services. The group includes Leonardo, the Italian Navy, the Italian Army, and Guardia di Finanza.

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