By Dan Parsons | September 7, 2017
Bell Helicopter has completed construction on its first V-280 Valor prototype. The manufacturer said it hopes to fly the tiltrotor later this year, and the team is now preparing for initial ground run at its assembly plant in Amarillo, Texas.
Bell said it designed the advanced tiltrotor using lessons learned from production and operation of the V-22 Osprey. The company is seeking to simplify the mechanics of tiltrotor technology. It also looks to reduce parts counts and boost reliability and maintainability, according to V-280 Program Manager Chris Gehler. The V-22 wing is swept forward slightly and the entire engine nacelles at the wingtips rotate vertically – a major source of reliability issues for the aircraft.
Valor is one of two industry teams participating in the U.S. Army’s Joint Multirole Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD) that will inform aircraft and system design for the follow-on Future Vertical Lift family of next-generation helicopters. The other aircraft currently participating in the demonstration is the Sikorsky Boeing SB>1 Defiant, based on the Sikorsky S-97 Raider, which employs coaxial main rotors and an aft pusher propeller to achieve the same fast-yet-maneuverable capability the Army desires. The Defiant is scheduled for a first flight some time in early 2018.
This article includes reporting originally published by Defense Daily, an R&WI sister publication.