Bell’s High-Speed Vertical Take-off and Landing Hits a Milestone

The company staged a successful demonstration of folding rotor technology and digital flight control systems.

The HSVTOL is designed to enhance rotor wing aircraft with the speed, range and survivability of jet aircraft. [Photo: Bell Flight]

Bell Textron (NYSE: TXT) announced Wednesday that its high-speed vertical takeoff and landing (HSVTOL) concept hit a milestone in testing this past December with a full-scale demonstration of its folding rotor technology and digital flight control systems. 

“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.

The team engineering the system has now completed its digital design ahead of schedule and has tested the hardware and software required to perform the full conversion of the rotor system from turboprop to jet mode. 

Troy Schank, manager of advanced technology integration and the chief engineer of HSVTOL at Bell, believes the demonstration is the first step in validating the concept. 

“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,” Schank said in a statement. “We look forward to integrating these results as we set our sights on the buildup of an integrated demo combining additional aircraft systems.” 

About the HSVTOL

The HSVTOL system will combine the hover capability of a helicopter with the speed, range, and survivability of a jet aircraft. The aircraft will have jet-like speeds of more than 400 knots and the scalability to support a range of missions from reconnaissance, autonomous ISR/Strike, and tactical mobility. 

Bell is one of 11 companies that are part of AFWERX HSVTOL Concept Challenge, a crowdsourcing effort for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command.

The companies receive market research investments aimed at advancing solutions that enable optimal agility in austere environments.

Based in Texas, Ashley is the former Marketing Manager at FLYING and focuses deeply on training and education. She graduated from the Baylor Institute for Air Science with a Bachelor's in Aviation Science and holds an MBA specializing in Marketing. She is an also instrument rated private pilot and licensed FAA dispatcher.

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