Bell and Agusta announced on 8 September 1998 that they had agreed to establish a joint venture to manage development of two new aircraft: the BA609 tiltrotor, previously a Bell and Boeing programme, and the AB139, a new helicopter announced on the same day. Following approval of both boards, a definitive agreement was signed on 6 November 1998. Bell is the majority shareholder and will undertake final assembly for AB139s delivered to North America. Agusta, which has built Bell helicopters under licence since 1952, is investing and participating in development of the BA609, manufacturing some components and assembling those sold in Europe and certain other parts of the world. Additionally, Agusta is responsible for the AB139's development and certification, with participation by Bell. A military version was revealed in July 2000. Flight testing of the AB139 began in February 2001, followed by the BA609 in March 2003.

Participating companies:

  • Bell Helicopter Textron (USA)
  • Agusta (Italy)

Additional Info

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