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Leonardo nears firm order from UAE for AW609

Leonardo Helicopters is closing in on a final contract with the United Arab Emirates for three search and rescue-roled AW609 tiltrotors.

The UAE in 2015 placed a tentative commitment for three examples, with a further three AW609s covered by options, to be operated by its Joint Aviation Command.

Gian Piero Cutillo, managing director of the helicopter manufacturer, says it is now “finalising the deal with the UAE customer”.

Speaking at the Dubai air show, he confirmed: "We are very close, we only have some minor things still to fix with the customer.”

Delivery of the first example to the UAE had been tentatively scheduled for 2019.

However, certification for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67A-powered tiltrotor appears to have been pushed back slightly into the initial months of 2019.

Cutillo indicates that the airframer is targeting US Federal Aviation Administration approval in “early 2019”, a minor slippage on its previous target of late 2018.

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