Uncovering Bell’s History with High-Speed Vertical Take-off and Landing Innovation

Since Bell’s first breakthrough innovation of the helicopter, its pursuit of next-generation vertical take-off and landing aircraft followed closely behind, making considerable progress on a range of capabilities for the past 86 years. Now, our teams are revitalizing research and development efforts for High-Speed Vertical Takeoff and Landing (HSVTOL) designs that will support future military missions for personnel recovery, logistics, and special operations missions. As a leader in HSVTOL technology, Bell has pioneered innovative VTOL prototypes like the X-14, X-22, XV-3, XV-15, Bell 533, TR911X and many others. More than 80 years of continued refinement and innovation in rapid design, analysis, and build and flight capabilities will lead the creation of a new fleet of fast, flexible platforms, propelling Bell into a new era of HSVTOL technology.

Our history with HSVTOL dates all the way back to the early 1960s, when key players like NASA, the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force shared a strong interest in the growing technology. Diving headfirst into the world of HSVTOL, Bell’s research resulted in several air vehicle configurations and a proof of concept full-scale wind tunnel test of its folding rotor technology. From this success, Bell developed a proven track record of delivering high speed aircraft in every category: helicopter, tiltrotor and autonomous vehicles. Now, Bell pursues aircraft beyond tiltrotor speeds with jet-like capability, while retaining efficient hover powers and endurance. The Bell Boeing V-22 holds more than 600,000 flight hours, demonstrating speeds of 280 kts. In Bell’s ongoing support of the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift initiative, the V-280 Valor Tech Demonstrator flew at speeds up to 305 KTAS in level flight while its attack reconnaissance counterpart, the Bell 360 Invictus, is projected to reach speeds greater than 180 KTAS.

Today, Bell’s HSVTOL technology and design concepts will provide the next generation of speed, range and survivability for vertical lift aircraft, surpassing tiltrotor speeds with jet-like capability while retaining efficient hover for essential mission capability. These concepts will employ efficient rotary wing vertical lift during takeoff and landing with the ability to transition in-flight into a low drag, cruise-efficient, jet configuration, reaching high speeds at high altitudes and achieving better range performance over legacy rotorcraft by using efficient turbofan-based thrust.

The HSVTOL benefits greatly from the lessons learned and innovative culture demonstrated during ongoing rapid development efforts on the Bell V-280 Valor and Bell 360 Invictus. And now, the progress toward developing a new X-plane research aircraft will fuel a new generation of HSVTOL concepts as the move toward validation of this game-changing capability.

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