By Andrew Drwiega, Editor-in-Chief, Aviation Maintenance
Heli-Expo, Dallas: Bell Helicopter’s stole the opening morning of Heli-Expo with its ultra-high profile unveil of the concept rotorcraft – the FCX‐001.
“Six months ago we created a dedicated team to focus on emerging technologies and how we could incorporate them into our products. Among that team’s first tasks was to display visually the technologies and innovations that present a roadmap that we envision bringing to market,” said Bell Helicopter’s president and CEO Mitch Snyder.
A Bell Helicopter statement stated that “this is Bell Helicopter’s first concept aircraft and presents a 3‐D roadmap for delivering safer, smarter and more efficient rotorcraft solutions, It was built to address the evolving demands of customers and to demonstrate key technologies that revolutionize the pilot and passenger experience.”
– A new anti‐torque system in the tail boom designed to change the safety, noise and performance parameters of vertical lift aircraft forever.
– Hybridized propulsion combines advanced thermal engine cores for the main propulsion with, for example, electric distribution and motors to drive the anti‐torque system for more control and simpler vehicle operations and maintenance.
– An airframe that is made from advanced sustainable materials to provide structural performance and offer configurations that our customers desire. In order to provide enhanced situational awareness, visibility and room, we are exploring the right combination of material and geometry. The airframe is also in the front line for energy management where external energy or system energy not already employed for useful work on the air vehicle is harvested, stored, attenuated and distributed.
– A landing gear with non‐traditional geometries that facilitate function when combined with advanced materials and actuation.
– Morphing rotor blades that allow aircraft to optimize performance in different flight regimes.
– A single pilot seat and an entirely new flight deck experience with the pilot controlling the aircraft through augmented reality and an artificial intelligence computer assistance system.
– A highly modular passenger cabin enhanced with the same augmented reality technology for individualized infotainment to catch up on world news, hold a video conference call, share documents with other passengers or simply watch a movie or play music to relax.