Commercial

Bell Lifts Curtain on Futuristic Concept Rotorcraft

By S.L. Fuller | March 7, 2017
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Photo by Ed Garza

Photo by Ed Garza

Bell Helicopter has a new, futuristic concept rotorcraft on which the company literally raised the curtain during the first full day of Heli-Expo. With a mock display available for people to sit in, the Bell FCX-001 is a demonstrator for new technology both inside and outside of the aircraft.

“Being a pioneer in the aircraft industry is in our DNA and we want to share this renewed passion with the world,” Bell President and CEO Mitch Snyder said. “The FCX‐001 points the way for our future – a renewed focus on innovative solutions and technologies. When the time is right we look forward to sharing more of what we’re doing behind closed doors."

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The airframe would be made from advanced sustainable material and would provide enhanced visibility with energy management capabilities. Bell is also planning landing gear with non-traditional geometries and morphing rotor blades. The Bell FCX-001 would contain a single pilot seat, allowing him or her to control it through augmented reality and an artificial intelligence computer assistance system. The passenger cabin would use that same augmented reality technology for entertainment purposes, like video calling and watching movies.

Bell FCX-001

Photo by Ed Garza

While the Bell FCX-001 is not on track to production, the technology it comprises could be. J. Scott Drennan, Bell's director of innovation, said the new rotor blade design and landing gear could end up on some existing or future Bell aircraft. The Bell FCX was conceptualized seven months ago, leaving plenty of room for growth.

"The end goal to this is to show the marketplace the technology we plan to bring to bear on future [aircraft] that come out. It's also a place we can experiment ... It's not just technology for technology's sake," Drennan said. "[Other than the FCX], we are working on a lot of stuff. We are interested in electric propulsion sector and the urban air taxi sector — we're looking at designs every day in that sector and hopefully we'll have more to come on that this year."

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