Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor completed a series of low-speed pitch, roll, and yaw manoeuvres at the company’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas in early May.
The company says the rotorcraft’s flight demonstrations show that it meets the US Army’s Level 1 handling qualities requirements. Bell believes those qualities will roughly reflect what the service wants from its Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA).
“It gives you better agility at the X or at the landing zone,” says Ryan Ehinger, V-280 programme manager for Bell. “Level 1 essentially means we are as good as or better than the H-60 [Black Hawk.]”
To improve low-speed handling, Bell took lessons learned from the design of the V-22.
“It’s similar in control methodology and how the tiltrotor manoeuvres, but we’ve turned up the flapping and the torque transience to be able to get a little more agility,” says Ehinger.
Bell says everything in flight testing is matching up with its modeling predictions.
The company plans to continue flight testing the tiltrotor, noting that after meeting its manoeuvrability goals it went onto fly five more sorties over the course of three days in May.
“Some of the focal points for us are going to be the more operational manoeuvres,” says Ehinger, who noted recent tests with the aircraft’s door open, a fast rope hanging under the wing and with Lockheed Martin’s Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor (PDAS) system. “We are continuing to expand some of those areas, and we are also looking to doing some autonomous flight demonstrations later this year.”
In March, Bell pushed the V-280 to 300kt (556km/h) in a test flight, surpassing its previous top speed for which it is named, 280kt. Since its first flight in December 2017, the aircraft has accumulated more than 110h of flight time and more than 225h rotor turn time, including ground testing.