One of two AgustaWestland’s AW609 tiltrotor prototypes crashed during a test flight on October 30, killing its two crew, an Italian and an American pilot.
Tiltrotor N609AG was the second 609 prototype built, and crashed into a field near the town of Santhià, around 30nm south-west AgustaWestland’s Cascina Costa headquarters from where it had departed.
AgustaWestland confirmed the accident in a statement on Twitter, saying: “Finmeccanica-AgustaWestland confirms the loss of one prototype AW609 tiltrotor and the tragic loss of two pilots. Our deepest sympathies are with the families. The company is working with relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident.”
Data from flight tracking website Flightradar24 indicates N609AG took off at 10.33am and was in the air for approximately 10 minutes before the accident happened.
Italian media reported witnesses to the accident claimed the tiltrotor was on fire before impact.
Italian air accident investigation agency ANSV said it has dispatched a team of investigators to the crash site to begin an investigation into the accident.
AgustaWestland had two AW609 flying prototypes – N609TR, based in Arlington, Texas and N609AG in Italy. The pair had recently clocked up 1,200 flight test hours, with two more prototypes scheduled to soon join the flight test program.
AgustaWestland was aiming to achieve FAA certification for the world’s first civil tiltrotor before the end of 2017.
A feature article on the AW609’s development and testing appeared in the June 2015 issue of Australian Aviation.