Using the latest in aviation technologies + enhance safety, performance and affordability
The V-280 VALOR is a tiltrotor aircraft being developed by Bell for the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme. The V-280 successfully achieved its namesake optimal cruise speed of 280 knots on this 23 January at Bell’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas.
Indeed, as delegates gather for 2019 AUSA ILW Global Force Symposium & Exposition, the V-280 programme reports the latest flight statistics: forward flight in excess of 280 knots true airspeed; more than 90 hours of flight and more than 190 rotor turn hours; in-flight transitions between cruise mode and vertical takeoff and landing; 45-degree banked turns; 4500ft/min rate of climb and sustained flight at 11,500ft (3502m) altitude; single flight ferry of over 370mi (595km); and demonstrated low and high-speed agility with fly-by-wire controls.
Ryan Ehinger, the V-280 Program Manager at Bell, pointed out: “These milestones continue to demonstrate that the V-280 VALOR is ready and that the Future of Vertical Lift is now.”
He outlined Bell’s key milestones on the V-280 programme for the remainder of 2019, originally noting as the programme continues into this year, V-280 flight testing will continue to prove out Bell’s key performance parameters and improve safety, performance and affordability for FVL. “The next stages will build on the momentum of the previous 14 months of flight to further expand the performance envelope toward demonstrations of operational maneuvers and autonomous flight,” he added.
The VALOR industry team reads like a who’s who in the aerospace and defence sector, with members, beyond Bell including: Lockheed Martin, Moog, GE, IAI, GKN Aerospace, Meggitt, Lord, Eaton, Spirit Aerosystems and TRU Simulation and Training. Mr Ehinger observed: “Team Valor is an integral part of the V-280’s success to date. Together, we continue to bring proof that the V-280 delivers speed and range well-beyond any existing rotorcraft platforms and that the future is now for FVL. We have had great partnerships with Team Valor for years under the JMR-TD [Joint Multi-Role Tech Demo] programme and fully expect that to continue. Bell believes that building industry partnerships has many benefits for customers. Building industry partnerships benefits customers by proactively looking at opportunities to rapidly mature technology and reduce programmatic risk. The result will be more suitable and sustainable options for FVL programmes,” and significantly added: “We are open to collaborations that serve mutually beneficial strategic gains for our customers.”
While Bell believes there are a number of applications for the technology used with the V-280, “however, it is too early for us to discuss specifics of foreign military sales or commercial applications,” he emphasised.
Mr Ehinger concluded by updating MONCh on the forward-leaning technologies and manufacturing processes used in the V-280 programme to date. Throughout the design, build and flight testing, Bell has used the latest in aviation technologies to simplify designs, engineer in reliability, as well as enhance safety, performance and affordability. “One example of this is our use of digital design and a collaborative digital environment to examine and exchange data from all aspects of the V-280 programme, including flight data. Bell’s application of this ‘digital thread’ throughout the design, assembly, and maintenance of the V-280 VALOR resulted in an aircraft with suitability characteristics (reliability, maintainability, logistics supportability) that are as outstanding as its effectiveness and survivability characteristics.”