The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Leonardo says that the Next Generation Tiltrotor (NGCTR) is a research and innovation project aimed at developing an advanced concept for a new tiltrotor design. The aim of the project is to define new technologies and "an innovative tiltrotor architecture" to increase performance and operational capability with respect to current tiltrotor configurations.

The NGCTR will have a cruise speed around 280 knots, twice that of typical helicopters and close to turboprop aircraft speeds, with a range of around 1,000 nm.

The NGCTR project involves the construction of various technological demonstrator versions of the main systems, as well as a full-scale demonstrator for flight testing and validation of the architectures and new technologies.

The Leonardo effort is also part of the Clean Sky 2 initiative, which is funded under the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Framework Program.

Outlook

Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

Leonardo already has a flying tiltrotor in the AW609 and is a major aerospace manufacturer with a big stake in the helicopter industry. From a technology point of view, it is likely that Leonardo can achieve what it sets out to accomplish with the NGCTR program, but it is uncertain at this point whether that will lead to a commercial product. As of August 2020, the Italian company remained almost completely silent as to its intentions. Despite having to make Covid-led cuts in spending during 2020, the group said it remained committed to longer-term technology developments.