Finmeccanica to restart testing of AW609 after crash

The new Finmeccanica's logo, Leonardo, is seen on a screen during a meeting of shareholders in Rome, Italy, April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - Italian defense group Leonardo Finmeccanica LDOF.MI plans to restart testing of its prototype tilt rotor AW609 aircraft in the coming months following a crash that killed two of its pilots, its chief executive said on Monday.

Testing of the aircraft was halted after the crash during a test flight in Italy last year.

“We are restarting testing of the aircraft and ... we think that we can continue to move onto certification (without) impacting the overall first delivery dates that we initially designated, toward the end of 2018,” chief executive Mauro Moretti told journalists at the Farnborough Airshow.

The AW609 TiltRotor aircraft can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter, but it can then become a de-facto fixed-wing airplane, allowing it to fly further and faster than a normal helicopter.

The aircraft is being developed by Leonardo Finmeccanica’s AgustaWestland unit.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Potter