Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT) company in Fort Worth, Texas, has unveiled its vision for the future of rotorcraft, the FCX-001 concept helicopter that harnesses emerging technologies to reduce noise, boost safety and performance, and enhance both the pilot and the passenger experience.
Bell Helicopter officials call the concept helicopter “a 3D roadmap for delivering safer, smarter, and more efficient rotorcraft solutions.” It was borne out of a “highly collaborative team of problem solvers” – a core group of Bell Helicopter engineers and graphic designers – to address the evolving demands of customers and demonstrate key technologies that revolutionize the pilot and passenger experience, including:
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.
Advanced Anti-Torque Concept
Bell Helicopter is developing new anti-torque systems that will change the safety, noise and performance parameters of vertical lift aircraft forever. In this example our anti-torque system is embedded in the tail boom for enhanced safety, providing thrust vectoring capability for control.
Advanced Airframe Design
Using advanced sustainable materials to provide structural performance and offer configurations that our customers desire. In order to provide enhanced visibility and room, we are exploring the right combination of materials and optimized geometry. The airframe is our front line for energy management where we harvest, store, attenuate and distribute external energy or system energy not already employed for useful work on the air vehicle.
Morphing Rotor Blades
Morphing structural geometries will allow aircraft to optimize performance in different flight regimes. Bell is a pioneer in this area having developed the tiltrotor concept of one geometry for helicopter mode flight and a completely different geometry for airplane mode flight. Now we explore individual morphing geometries such as blades, inlets, aerodynamic surfaces, whether through advanced actuation or materials, or both, to push beyond the enhancements that we originally created.
One pilot seat. Removing the traditional Multi Function Display (MFD) flight deck for enhanced visibility from the pilot seat creating an entirely new experience. We see pilots of the future controlling the aircraft with the aid of augmented reality and an artificial intelligence computer assistance system. This takes us from computer augmented piloting, much like we have today with Fly-By-Wire systems, to optionally piloted vehicles where the pilot assumes the role of safety and mission officer aboard the aircraft while the computer flies with him. This is the stepping stone to the fully autonomous unpiloted VTOL air vehicles.
Enhanced Cabin Design
A concept modular flooring systems allows for rapid seating configuration changes so that the cabin can be customized for many types of passenger, cargo or mission based requirements. LED lighting in the overhead canopy can be fully customized in color and brightness depending on passenger preference. 360-degree pop-down air ventilation systems to allow for increased comfort on demand.
Advanced Landing Gear
There is an important design aesthetic to this gear but we are exploring how non-traditional geometries, including wheels, tires and support structures can facilitate function when combined with advanced materials. As an example, actuation can improve maneuverability and absorb landing energy for improved safety and comfort in ground operations.
Bell Helicopter, a wholly owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., is a producer of commercial and military, manned and unmanned vertical-lift aircraft and the pioneer of the revolutionary tiltrotor aircraft. Globally recognized for world-class customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell's global workforce serves customers flying Bell aircraft in more than 120 countries.
Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, Textron Off Road, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training.
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