Bell Tilt-Rotor Nears First Flight

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Bell Helicopter’s new tilt-rotor design, the V-280 Valor, is about 95 percent complete and will likely fly for the first time in September, the company says. Bell displayed a full-size mock-up of the V-280 last week at the Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, Tennessee. The V-280 is designed to fly at speeds up to 280 knots, carry a crew of four plus up to 14 troops, and cover a range of up to 800 NM. It’s under development at the company’s facility in Amarillo, Texas. The company is competing against Sikorsky/Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant for a military contract to produce the aircraft. The Army is expected to select one of the two designs by 2019.

The Sikorsky/Boeing team recently released a new video about their project, revealing that it will have an airspeed of up to 250 knots and carry up to 11 troops. First flight is expected next year. Bell also is working on an autonomous tilt-rotor design, the Bell V-247 Vigilant. The Vigilant will have a 65-foot wingspan and will be capable of carrying a payload of up to 6.5 tons of fuel, armament and sensors.

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