Although the first flight of the Bell Boeing Model 609 is still two years away, interest in the civil tilt-rotor continues to grow.

The joint venture by Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing holds preliminary purchase agreements from 29 customers representing 41 aircraft, including Evergreen Helicopters, Massachusetts Life Insurance, and Helikopter Services of Norway.

Pledges for the four additional Model 609 aircraft have come from four unnamed customers, says Donald Barbour, executive director of the civil tilt-rotor project. Customers who have paid $100,000 cash deposits will be required to sign final purchase agreements six months after the first flight, which is now scheduled for the middle of 1999.

Company officials forecast that the worldwide market for the aircraft will reach as many as 1,000 units. Base price for the Model 609 is $8-$10 million.

Source: Flight International