After its unveiling in August 2021, Bell’s High-Speed Vertical Take-off and Landing (HSVTOL) concepts hit a new development milestone with a full-scale demonstration of its folding rotor technology and digital flight control systems in December.
“This milestone, advanced Bell’s HSVTOL technology to a technology readiness level (TRL) of 4 in 2021, and our 2022 development plan has us rapidly progressing to TRL 5 with an integrated demonstration – one step closer to flight” said Jeff Nissen, senior manager of Advanced Technology and the HSVTOL program manager at Bell.
Bell’s demonstration validated several critical elements of HSVTOL enabling technologies including reliable folding rotor hardware and robust digital flight control. The team completed the digital design of this system in record time and rapidly built and tested the hardware and software required to perform a full conversion of the rotor system from turboprop to jet mode. “This full-scale demonstration was an exciting event to see our digital design come to life and allowed us to rapidly validate key assumptions we were making in the functionality of these systems. We look forward to integrating these results as we set our sights on the buildup of an integrated demo combining additional aircraft systems,” said Troy Schank, manager, Advanced Technology Integration and HSVTOL chief engineer at Bell.
Signifying Bell’s ongoing commitment to delivering transformational capabilities to the U.S. military, the company unveiled its HSVTOL concept in 2021. HSVTOL blends hover capability of a helicopter with the speed, range and survivability features of jet aircraft. This family of aircraft concepts delivers low downwash hover capability, jet-like speeds more than 400 kts, and scalability to support a range of missions from personnel recovery, autonomous ISR/Strike, and tactical mobility. HSVTOL’s runway independence offers unmatched mission flexibility to support future military needs.
Bell has a strong track-record of producing innovative VTOL configurations that advance aviation. Recently, the V-280 Valor long range assault aircraft demonstrator safely concluded a three-year flight test after achieving over 200 flight hours and showing it has the revolutionary speed, range, and agility needed to modernize U.S. military aviation. Bell applied digital design, advanced manufacturing technologies, and emerging commercial processes allowing it to increase reliability, efficiency in operations, enhance affordability, and build with digital precision. The Bell V-280 Valor program has proven itself through a rapid development cycle and a rigorous flight-testing program.
Bell’s HSVTOL folding rotor systems integration lab development effort is complemented by additional progress made during its DARPA contract. Bell also recently announced its award of the AFWERX HSVTOL Phase I effort for these concept vehicles, which have received widespread attention throughout the industry. As the HSVTOL technology development progresses, Bell will continue to lay the groundwork for the development of yet another revolutionary Bell VTOL aircraft that will enhance mission capabilities for U.S. warfighters.