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  • ​PICTURES: Bell V-280 tiltrotor conducts maiden flight

​PICTURES: Bell V-280 tiltrotor conducts maiden flight

The Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor has conducted its maiden flight at Amarillo, Texas.

A video and photographs from Bell shows the tiltrotor take off vertically, hover momentarily, and then land.

The sortie does not appear to have involved forward flight. The aircraft's GE Aviation T64 engines remained fixed in the upright position for the entire flight.

The airframer's initial statement did not provide further details, such as whether the V-280 performed as expected, and what surprises, if any, emerged.

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Bell Helicopter

At the Dubai air show in November, Vince Tobin, vice-president military business at Bell, said that initial flights will be confined to low hover manoeuvres, moving to transitions into airplane mode, and then an expansion of the envelope in airplane mode "by the spring of 2018."

Although the V-280 faces competition for the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) contract from the co-axial-rotor Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant, first flight of the latter has been pushed back into 2018.

“This is an exciting time for Bell Helicopter, and I could not be more proud of the progress we have made with first flight of the Bell V-280,” says Mitch Snyder, president and chief executive for Bell Helicopter.

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Bell Helicopter

“First flight demonstrates our commitment to supporting Department of Defense leadership’s modernization priorities and acquisition reform initiatives. The Valor is designed to revolutionize vertical lift for the US Army and represents a transformational aircraft for all the challenging missions our armed forces are asked to undertake."

Initially to fly as part of the joint multirole technology demonstrator programme, Bell hopes the V-280 will then form the basis for the multi-service FVL initiative, initially as a replacement for the Army's fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks.

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