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FARNBOROUGH: Bell close to revealing architecture for urban air vehicle

Bell is moving closer to revealing the rotor system that will equip its future urban air mobility vehicle, with the manufacturer now settled on its preferred architecture.

Speaking at Farnborough, chief executive Mitch Snyder said the programme is moving from a conceptual to a preliminary design phase.

"We have actually tested enough systems in the lab to know what we are going to do with that vehicle," says Snyder.

It is developing the 453kg (1,000lb) maximum take-off weight air vehicle in collaboration with Uber for the technology firm's Elevate urban mobility initiative. Service entry is expected in the "early 2020s".

Bell has yet to share with Uber its latest configuration for the air vehicle as it wants to "hold off a little longer", says Snyder.

"Once we get it close to the preliminary design review, when we really know the architecture of the system, that's when we will unveil it."

The US airframer recently selected Safran to supply a hybrid-electric power system for the aircraft, which Snyder describes as the "biggest piece" of the design.

Bell earlier this year changed its brand, ditching the "Helicopter" from its name to reflect its change to a "technology company that is redefining flight".

However, traditional rotorcraft still provide the backbone for the company's static display. In fact, it is giving a Farnborough air show debut for its 505 Jet Ranger X light-single.

That may sound surprising given that the helicopter has been in development since 2013, but previous appearances at the event have been made by full-scale mock-ups.

The aircraft (G-DONE) is owned by Simpson Heli Charters of the UK and is painted in a flat grey colour scheme, partly to emphasise the 505's potential as a low-cost military trainer.

Bell is participating in several campaigns with the 505, says Snyder, although he declines to reveal potential customers.

Get all the coverage from the Farnborough air show on our dedicated event page

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