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Bell plans V-280 autonomy demonstration in 2019

21 October 2019
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Bell is planning an external-load demo with the V-280 that will place an operationally relevant load underneath the aircraft to demonstrate capability for the US Army's Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) procurement. Source: Bell

Key Points

  • Bell is planning an autonomy demonstration with its V-280 later this year where it will perform a set of tasks with no human involved, other than a safety pilot
  • The company is completing its mission capability demos

Bell is planning to perform an autonomy demonstration with its V-280 tiltrotor by the end of this year that will have the aircraft fly itself with a safety pilot on board.

Paul Wilson, V-280 chief engineer, told Jane's on 15 October that the aircraft will perform an automated takeoff, transfer the rotors from the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) mode into forward-facing cruise mode, and fly previously programmed waypoints before returning to a destination and landing.

Wilson said Bell will load in a pre-programmed mission profile for the aircraft to execute. There will be no operator in-the-loop for this autonomy demonstration, making it a fully autonomous flight.

Bell plans other tasks in 2019 that will complete the primary capabilities demonstration it planned for the V-280. Wilson said the company will perform a sling load, or an external load, demonstration with the aircraft where the company will place an operationally representative load underneath the aircraft to demonstrate the capability of the platform to support the US Army's Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) mission. Bell will offer the V-280 for the FLRAA procurement, Wilson said.

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