Northeast Philadelphia Airport Widens Leonardo’s Opportunities

Look, up in the sky… it’s a plane, it’s a helicopter, it’s an AW609 tiltrotor!

Northeast Philadelphia Airport (PNE) is in the final stages of widening Taxiway J1 to accommodate the production of the AW609 tiltrotor by Leonardo Helicopters, one of the world’s top ten players in Aerospace, Defense and Security, delivering cutting-edge and dual-use technologies to governments, institutions and private customers, and a tenant at PNE for 40 years.

“The new taxiway will be widened to 60 feet wide to accommodate the AW609’s lager wingspan with a combination of full depth asphalt pavement with a concrete keel section and also include upgraded drainage and associated electric, such as edge lights and airfield signs,” said John Pedley, Project Manager.

PNE will be the primary facility for the manufacture of Leonardo’s AW609 tiltrotor. The construction should be completed by the end of August.

According to Leonardo’s website, the “AW609 combines the speed, range, and comfort of an airplane with the convenience and flexibility of a helicopter. It is ideally suited for Executive and Private Transport, Medical and Rescue Services and Energy Services.”

Additionally, the AW609 can carry up to nine passengers, is designed for flight into known icing conditions, and meets FAA requirements for both airplanes and helicopters, including single engine operation and autorotation.

“Here in Philadelphia, Leonardo Helicopters is building and certifying the world’s first commercial tiltrotor; an aircraft with the speed, range and high altitude performance of a turboprop airplane, but with the vertical takeoff and landing capability of a helicopter. This aircraft has the potential to revolutionize transportation around the world. Part of our challenge is building a tiltrotor at a facility that was originally designed just for helicopters, however, with the help and support of the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia International Airport, projects like the taxiway widening are critical steps towards preparing our site at PNE for full production,” said Michael Cooper, Leonardo’s Manager of External Relations & Communications.

But, the AW609 isn’t the only thing flying at Leonardo’s facility at PNE. In October 2018, the company was awarded a contract in partnership with Boeing in Ridley Park to build 84 MH-139 helicopters for the United States Air Force and, just this past January, they won a contract to build and deliver up to 130 helicopters to replace the United States Navy’s undergraduate training fleet. 

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