AgustaWestland is in negotiations with Bell about a move to increase the European company's stake in the Bell Agusta Aerospace (BAAC) joint venture to 50% in an attempt to better reflect the workshare between the two participants as the Anglo-Italian manufacturer increases its role in the BA609 tiltrotor.

Agusta has a 45% share in BAAC, the marketing unit for the BA609 and the AB139 helicopter, with each partner initially taking a 25% stake in the other's programme. Chief executive Amedeo Caporaletti says Agusta is now "taking responsibility for a larger part of the [BA609] programme in order to maintain the schedule within reasonable terms".

The objective is to have the tiltrotor certificated by 2007. Agusta aims to certificate the AB139 this year, freeing engineers for other programmes.

Caporaletti says BAAC "has no other programmes" in the pipeline and, as a marketing company, will not be involved in the US101 project.

Meanwhile, AgustaWestland is continuing work with Eurocopter on a larger tiltrotor in the "Erica" research programme partly financed by the European Union's 5th Framework Research Programme. Caporaletti says "there is hope for a European tiltrotor but not for 10 years."

Source: Flight International