Willkie Advises on Acquisition of Program Developing the First Civilian Tiltrotor Helicopter

June 28, 2011

Willkie Assists AgustaWestland in its acquisition of joint-venture partner Bell Helicopter’s stake in the 609 tiltrotor program.

It was recently announced that Willkie client AgustaWestland has agreed with Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, to take full ownership of the 609 tiltrotor program, the program developing the first civilian tiltrotor helicopter. Following receipt of required regulatory approvals in Europe and the U.S., AgustaWestland will become the full owner of Bell Agusta Aerospace Company, the type certificate applicant for this aircraft to the FAA. The 609 tiltrotor, which is designed to satisfy government and private-sector demand for an aircraft that combines an airplane's speed, range and altitude capabilities with a helicopter's vertical takeoff and landing capabilities, will be rebranded as the AW609.

The Bell-AgustaWestland alliance was formed in 1998, initially as a 75-25 venture, with Bell the majority partner because of its investment in the program based on its prior development with Boeing of the military tiltrotor, the V-22. Bell Helicopter will remain involved in the design and certification of certain AW609 components for which it will be the supplier when the aircraft reaches the production phase.

The Willkie deal team included partners William Gump, Kelsey Nix and Christopher Peters; special counsel Jonathan Konoff; of counsel William Ried; and associates Michael Brandt, Delano Ladd and DJ Stauber.