Aerostructures is negotiating to supply the fuselage of the Bell Boeing 609 civil tilt-rotor as a risk sharing partner. The Nashville, Tennessee-based company would take over the work from Boeing, which has transferred its stake in the venture to partner Bell Helicopter Textron. Bell is seeking risk sharing partners to replace Boeing's investment in the programme.

Aerostructures says that it has an "interim agreement" to be a major supplier on the 609. "Providing a competitive price is key to our reaching an agreement with Bell and further negotiations are necessary before a final contract can be signed. Hopefully, that will happen within 90 days," says president Dick Wells.

The company, which produces tail sections for the Bell Boeing V-22 military tilt rotor and is to supply empennage components for the 609, would take over responsibility for the all-composite fuselage. Aerostructures "-is being asked to be a risk sharing partner-by making a major financial investment in the development of the aircraft", the company says.

The work is expected to be worth "several hundred million dollars", Aerostructures says, based on estimates of a market demand for 500 or more aircraft. Bell has so far booked deposits for over 60 tilt rotors, with a first flight due in late 1999, leading to certification and first deliveries in late 2001. Aerostructures was owned by Textron until it was acquired by the Carlyle Group investment firm.

Source: Flight International