One of the more interesting static displays at last week’s Paris Air Show was AgustaWestland’s all-electric tiltrotor technology incubator called Project Zero. According to the company, “Project Zero features the unique combination of airplane performance and rotorcraft flexibility typical of the tiltrotor concept, with capability of vertical takeoff and landing like a helicopter and conversion to fixed-wing-aircraft forward flight thanks to its two integrated tilting rotors.” These characteristics allow for low noise and thermal signature as well as a significant abatement of chemical emissions, stated the placard accompanying the display. AgustaWestland’s advanced concepts group led the development of Project Zero. The company unveiled the research vehicle in March, although it began flying it in already in 2011 at its Cascina Costa facility in Italy. The aircraft’s outer wings are detachable for missions flown primarily in helicopter mode.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.