AgustaWestland has launched a demonstrator programme internally dubbed "Project Zero" for an all-electric vehicle with a pair of tiltrotors embedded within a flying wing structure.

The formal unveiling at the AgustaWestland press conference on the eve of Heli-Expo comes several weeks after the concept was revealed in a patent application published on 31 January.

The patent filing shows a V-tailed vehicle identified as the "Convertiplane", with a top speed in forward flight of 270kt (500km/h) and a normal cruising altitude of 24,600ft (7,500m). The patent was assigned to James Wang, the vice-president of research and development.

 AgustaWestland Project Zero


Such an aircraft would boast twice the cruising speed, range, ceiling and endurance compared with a conventional helicopter, AgustaWestland claimed in the patent application.

"With respect to a conventional aeroplane, on the other hand, a convertiplane has the advantages of being able to hover, and to take off and land in confined spaces, even in urban areas," adds the company.

The aircraft also replaces a gas turbine engine with electric motors powered by rechargeable batteries, according to the patent filing.

The launch of "Project Zero" shows that AgustaWestland is looking to extend the tiltrotor technology it inherited with the AW609, which it now owns after acquiring Bell Helicopter's share of the programme.

Source: Flight International