Building the future of flight

Presenting the next generation of innovations in civil aviation

By Muhammad Ali Bandial

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Paul De Jonge - Helicopters Marketing Vice President Leonardo
Paul De Jonge - Helicopters Marketing Vice President Leonardo

Published: Sun 14 Nov 2021, 12:10 PM

Air mobility is experiencing a major transition phase. In a few years and decades, not just professionals and players in the air transportation sector but common people and large communities will not only realise this, they will also be a part of this. An evolving scenario which is going to modify even the use of air space in our cities and urban areas, with the gradual introduction of new ways to fly, new services and, not less important of course, new regulations, infrastructures, habits. All of this is intended to enhance life quality while guaranteeing the broadest scope of modern and safe mobility opportunities in a sustainable manner. Expo 2020 Dubai and Dubai Airshow 2021 are giving the whole world a broad view of what’s next in civil aviation.

At these two events, Leonardo gives a tangible insight of some of the possibilities in renovating the use of air space and changing our lives, today or very soon. “People and visitors must have seen an uncommon ‘flying shape’ exhibited on these occasions,” said Paul De Jonge, helicopters marketing vice president in Leonardo, “it’s called AW609 and it is going to be the world’s first civil certified tiltrotor soon. It’s going to take crews, passengers and rescue teams to the sky vertically like any helicopter would do. Then, once in the air, will move them around and connect locations at the speed of turboprop airplane, further and flying above adverse weather in a comfortable pressurised cabin feeling like any business or leisure flight we would take for usual travels” explained De Jonge.

“However, one won’t be forced to reach a departure airport and land at an arrival airport, planning well ahead of take-off and landing the time it takes to reach the terminals, facing traffic jam, then going through checks. One could just take off from anywhere downtown, provided there’s enough space like that typically used for helicopters, and land in another city, downtown. Saving time, enjoying vacation or pursuing business opportunities.”

The magic behind this is a range of innovations and technologies. A couple of rotors at the tip of its wings, tilting forward by 90 degrees from their vertical position to become true propellers in less than 60 seconds after take-off (and reverse to land). All electronically managed by sophisticated computers. A modern and light all-composite airframe to host up to 9 passengers, allowing ease of maintenance and contributing to a sustainable repair approach. Full digital pilot controls and cockpit displays aiding the crew all mission-long, keeping an eye to whatever they don’t need to manage in person and presenting only the necessary information at the various stages of flight.

“Think about flying assisted by satellites with screens providing a virtual representation of the world outside, you don’t need to see it from the windscreen in demanding conditions or at night. As a pilot, you’ll know what’s in front of you by sophisticated synthetic images. Travelling by the AW609 means less time in the air, less fuel consumption, less chemical emission, so a greener approach to air mobility. And it’s really quiet in airplane mode,”added De Jonge.

Possibilities don’t stop at cities’ point-to-point connections. Communities leaving in remote areas in the deserts, on small isolated islands far offshore from mainland, in extreme cold in northern icy areas, all of them will be reached rapidly and easily like was never possible before. And what about people in distress at sea? “A rescue airplane won’t be able to use a winch to pull them,” explained De Jonge. “A rescue helicopter won’t reach them if they are too far or will get there slowly. The AW609 will get to them fast, hovering over their head to rescue and bring those people back to a safe area quickly.”

Complementing the revolutionary aircraft shown in Dubai, an innovative ground-based infrastructure is also giving an idea of where the future of urban transport is going. And it is already supporting regular and more conventional helicopter transfer to and from Expo 2020 Dubai, managed by Falcon Aviation who partnered with Leonardo to create this modern terminal, that has been designated the Casa Agusta.

Leonardo has been giving more than a glimpse of future in Dubai over the last month presenting unique solutions which are either in service or coming shortly and really around the corner, making

future a closer place to be.


14-18 NOVEMBER 2021, DWC




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