Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, has successfully joined the V-280 Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) wing and nacelles to the aircraft fuselage. The milestone occurred last week at the company’s aircraft assembly center in Amarillo, Texas.
“The V-280 wing, nacelles and fuselage are now assembled into the aircraft we’ve designed as the next generation tiltrotor,” said Lisa Atherton, executive vice president of Military Business Development for Bell Helicopter. “This is a major milestone. The attention to detail from our employees, our suppliers and from all of Team Valor, today and throughout this entire process, has been astounding. Their efforts have resulted in an aircraft that is coming together quickly and according to schedule. We are excited and counting down to the first flight in 2017.”
The V-280 Valor is a next-generation tiltrotor that is designed to provide unmatched agility, speed, range, and payload capabilities at an affordable cost. The V-280’s tiltrotor technology converts vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability into a tactical, operational and strategic advantage. The revolutionary aircraft capitalizes on the more than 300,000 V-22 fleet flight hours, and leverages Bell Helicopter’s decades of tiltrotor experience.
Once the aircraft achieves a successful first flight in September 2017, program leaders are confident Bell Helicopter will have the data required to go into the full scale Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) phase.
“The V-280 tiltrotor is designed with technology advancements that significantly reduce risk and cost, allowing the Department of Defense to field Future Vertical Lift (FVL) to the warfighter far earlier than previously anticipated. We have improved the manufacturing processes to arrive at a revolutionary aircraft with reduced sustainment costs and simplified maintenance procedures. This technology will provide the Department of Defense with the overmatch requirements to win in a complex world,” said Atherton.
The V-280 has an anticipated cruise speed of 280 KTAS, with a 500-800 nm combat range and 11 to 14 operators. The Valor benefits from a flexible design, matching multi-mission versatility with exceptional 6K/95 hover performance. Tiltrotor is the only vertical lift technology which can rapidly self-deploy to any theater, and can cover more than five times the area of current MEDEVAC platforms. The V-280 provides the low-speed hover agility of a helicopter with fixed wing range and efficiencies.
In the coming weeks and months work on the V-280 will involve preparing for verification work leading to a tethered power-up at the Bell Helicopter facility in Amarillo in the first half of 2017. Development continues in the company’s flight control systems lab in Ft. Worth. The lab integrates pilot inputs with flight control computers and flight controls, providing data for software that works with the hardware controlling flight loads and hydraulic performance. The T64-GE-419 engines and gearboxes are expected to be installed in the nacelles this November.