An AgustaWestland AW609 tiltrotor test aircraft has crashed in northern Italy, killing its two pilots.
Italian air-accident investigation agency ANSV says it has dispatched a team to the crash site in the province of Vercelli.
Local media reports suggest the crash site is near the town of Santhià, around 30 miles (48km) from AgustaWestland’s Cascina Costa headquarters and nearby Vergiate production facility.
ANSV said the aircraft involved is a N609AG, the second flight-test prototype, built in 2003. A statement from AgustaWestland’s parent company, Finmeccanica, confirmed the loss of the tiltrotor.
“The company’s deepest sympathies are with the families,” it said. “Finmeccanica-AgustaWestland [are] working with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident.”
ANSV said the aircraft was destroyed in the crash. Images in local media show one of the AW609’s proprotors and engine nacelles in flames on the ground.
Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 suggests the tiltrotor departed from Milan’s Malpensa airport at around 09:30 UTC.
Certification of the AW609, the world’s first civil tiltrotor, was scheduled for 2017. The 8.6t maximum take-off-weight tiltrotor is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 engines and can carry up to nine passengers and two crew.