Riddle: What do you call an aircraft that flies like a plane, but takes off like a helicopter?
Answer: A bonanza for Hercules.Oh sure, the maiden flight of the world's first production tilt-rotor aircraft, the revolutionary V-22 Osprey, landed in aviation history books. But Utah types are lauding the aircraft's money-making abilities: The Osprey is shaping up to be a major user of graphite composite materials produced at Hercules Aerospace Bacchus Works.
Ed Gerrard, Hercules graphite marketing manager, said the Osprey uses graphite composites instead of metal in the fuselage, wing and tail. Hercules material sales could soar above $600 million over the next decade for military production, not counting the potential for commercial use of graphite.
The Osprey is produced by Bell Helicopter Textron and Boeing Helicopters, and six prototypes are scheduled to be flying by the end of the year.
The Marines want 552 planes by 1992. The Navy needs 50, and the Air Force expects to order 55. Although not participating in the funding, the Army is considering ordering 232.