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P&WC gains approval for AW609 tiltrotor engine

Pratt & Whitney Canada has secured Canadian certification for the variant of its PT6C engine which will power the Leonardo Helicopters AW609 tiltrotor.

Transport Canada approved the 2,000shp (1,490kW)-rated PT6C-67A on 12 September, the company announced today. European and US approvals will follow in the coming months, it adds.

Leonardo expects to have both remaining prototypes of the AW609 flying by year-end as it works towards certification and service entry in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

A third flight-test aircraft, closer to the production version, will fly in early 2018, it says.

A previous prototype - the programme's second - was destroyed in a fatal accident in 2015.

Meanwhile, the airframer is continuing to work on the Next Generation Civil Tiltrotor (NGCTR) it is developing as part of the European Union's Clean Sky 2 programme.

It intends to fly a concept demonstrator in 2023, which will be a scaled-down version of any eventual production aircraft.

Leonardo has yet to define the capacity of the production model, says Roberto Garavaglia, senior vice-president of strategy and business development.

"A business case for a product of that size still has to be assessed," he says. "We are in a peculiar situation where we are not replacing an existing product. We need to sell the market a new concept."

However, he believes a successful introduction of the AW609 can help prove the validity of the concept: "Tiltrotors will shape the future of vertical flight," he says.

Leonardo is currently in the process of selecting which engines the NGCTR will use; these will be in the 3,000shp class, says Garavaglia.

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