ROME – Takes off like a helicopter, but travels at 500 km/h flying above the clouds. So no runway and no airport, you can start from any point and land on the roof of a building. A small technical prodigy produced by the Italian Leonardo, the twelfth defense company in the world and first in the European Union by size with a turnover of around 14 billion per year (the Ministry of Economy and Finance owns the majority share of 30% ).
The aircraft in question was named Convertiplano AW609, because it is halfway between the sophisticated helicopters that the company produces – both in civilian and military fields – and a very modern turboprop equipped with a pressurized cabin. “The AW609 is a multi-role aircraft capable of combining speed and range with the helicopter’s vertical take-off and landing and stationary flight capabilities”, they explain to Leonardo “It is therefore ideal for directional and private, medical and rescue, services and energy services, with services that are unprecedented”.
But how is all this possible? Through the position that from the cabin the two pilots give to the propellers on the respective ends of the wings. When to take off. the two propellers are turned upwards, like a helicopter. Once at altitude. they lower themselves assuming the typical position horizontal they have in all airplanes. Thanks to two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67A engines, an FAA design standard for the transport category, but above all thanks to a composite pressurized fuselage that can accommodate up to 9 passengers, the Convertiplane flies at a cruising altitude of over 25,000 feet, so it is not affected by adverse weather conditions as is the case with a helicopter.
14.07 meters long and 18.26 wide, the aircraft offers a payload of 2,721 kg, which makes it particularly functional in rescue cases. The cabin quickly transforms into a fully equipped ambulance where 4 doctors can take care of a patient. The speed factor is decisive: both in cases of rescue at sea and for the transfer of organs from one city to another, given its range of action is greater than 1400 km.