Helicopter manufacturer AVX Aircraft Company continues to stress the advantages of its design for a future vertical lift aircraft.
At a press conference on 5 May, company officials expressed confidence AVX will be among two firms chosen to build demonstrators for the US Army, saying its position as a smaller, more nimble company works to its advantage.
However, the officials add that development will not necessarily end even if AVX is not among those chosen.
“We don’t bring with us either a legacy or a burden of overhead [or] other attributes that some of the big guys do,” says Scott Pomeroy, vice chairman of AVX, which launched in 2005. “Innovation is not the birthright of a large public multinational corporation. We think the strategy of being flexible, nimble [and] agile with our approach is precisely what the army and the military necessitates."
Pomeroy and other AVX executives were speaking at the Army Aviation Association of America Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.
AVX chairman, president and chief engineer Troy Gaffey says the company has hired staff who helped design rotor systems and gearboxes for other advanced helicopters, such as the Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor.
Still, Gaffey says AVX will probably need to partner with another company if it is chosen to supply an aircraft to the army. “We will most likely have a teaming arrangement with a company that can handle the assembly, integration and production support,” he says.
AVX is one of four companies that won contracts to conduct design work for the army’s joint multirole programme. Others include a Sikorsky-Boeing team, a Bell Helicopter-Lockheed Martin team and Karem Aircraft.
AVX’s design calls for an aircraft with two overhead coaxial rotors and two pusher ducted fans on the back of the fuselage. This configuration will allow the aircraft to achieve 80% of the speed of a V-22, but at half the cost, the executives say.
The company says its aircraft will have more than twice the cabin volume of a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, be able to carry 8t of cargo and have space for 14 battle-ready troops.
The type will be able to hover at 6,000ft in temperatures of 35˚C (95˚F), and be able to fly without refuelling from Travis AFB in California to Hawaii – a distance of about 2,100nm (3,890km), AVX says.
The firm has not named its concept, although a company marketing video refers to the design as an “innovative compound coaxial helicopter".
The US military is expected later this year to name two companies to build demonstrators for the follow-on future vertical lift programme, and Gaffey says he is “very optimistic” AVX will be chosen.
However, Gaffey says the army could allow the two companies that are not chosen to continue work on some aspects of their designs, and conduct windtunnel or other tests that do not involve flight.
“I suspect AVX will be involved one way or another,” says Gaffey.