Innovation

 
A new era is upon us...
 

Modern Innovations

Advanced Anti-Torque Concept

Bell Helicopter is developing new anti-torque systems that will change the safety, noise and performance parameters of vertical lift aircraft forever. In this example our anti-torque system is embedded in the tail boom for enhanced safety, providing thrust vectoring capability for control.

Hybridized Propulsion

Combines advanced thermal engine cores for the main propulsion with, for example, electric distribution and motors to drive the anti-torque system for more control and simpler vehicle operations and maintenance.

Advanced Airframe Design

Using advanced sustainable materials to provide structural performance and offer configurations that our customers desire. In order to provide enhanced visibility and room, we are exploring the right combination of materials and optimized geometry. The airframe is our front line for energy management where we harvest, store, attenuate and distribute external energy or system energy not already employed for useful work on the air vehicle.

Morphing Rotor Blades

Morphing structural geometries will allow aircraft to optimize performance in different flight regimes. Bell is a pioneer in this area having developed the tiltrotor concept of one geometry for helicopter mode flight and a completely different geometry for airplane mode flight. Now we explore individual morphing geometries such as blades, inlets, aerodynamic surfaces, whether through advanced actuation or materials, or both, to push beyond the enhancements that we originally created.

Virtual Cockpit

One pilot seat. Removing the traditional Multi Function Display (MFD) flight deck for enhanced visibility from the pilot seat creating an entirely new experience. We see pilots of the future controlling the aircraft with the aid of augmented reality and an artificial intelligence computer assistance system. This takes us from computer augmented piloting, much like we have today with Fly-By-Wire systems, to optionally piloted vehicles where the pilot assumes the role of safety and mission officer aboard the aircraft while the computer flies with him. This is the stepping stone to the fully autonomous unpiloted VTOL air vehicles.

Enhanced Cabin Design

A concept modular flooring systems allows for rapid seating configuration changes so that the cabin can be customized for many types of passenger, cargo or mission based requirements. LED lighting in the overhead canopy can be fully customized in color and brightness depending on passenger preference. 360-degree pop-down air ventilation systems to allow for increased comfort on demand.

Advanced Landing Gear

There is an important design aesthetic to this gear but we are exploring how non-traditional geometries, including wheels, tires and support structures can facilitate function when combined with advanced materials. As an example, actuation can improve maneuverability and absorb landing energy for improved safety and comfort in ground operations.

Flight Control Technology

At the heart of the fly-by-wire system are three separate and independent flight control computers. Upon receiving digital commands from the pilots, the system evaluates and calculates the optimal method to achieve the order; assuring the aircraft is not compromised and is supported by extra system redundancy

A History of Innovation

Since the company’s beginning in 1935 as Bell Aircraft Corporation, Bell Helicopter has set the pace for the helicopter industry, expanding the scope of vertical lift. Bell was the first to obtain commercial certification for a helicopter nearly 60 years ago – and since then, has delivered thousands of innovative aircraft to customers around the world.

Bell Aircraft Corporation Founded

Lawrence D. Bell founds Bell Aircraft Corporation, with 56 employees, at 2050 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY.

In 1936 Bell Aircraft Corporation is awarded a contract to build the XFM-1 Airacuda, the first military aircraft produced by the company.

1930's

Rotorcraft Beginnings

In 1941 Bell Aircraft Corporation begins development work on its first helicopter, the Bell Model 30.

Floyd Carlson performs the first helicopter rescue in the Bell Model 30. Two ice fishermen, Arthur Johnson and Wally Gillson, are rescued one at a time on Lake Erie. Carlson receives the Treasury Department Silver Medal for this daring feat.

The Bell Model 47B is granted the world’s first commercial helicopter license in 1946. The Bell Model 47 later sets an altitude record of 18,550 feet and a speed record of 133.9 mph.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Charles “Chuck” Yeager, reached Mach 1.06 (700 mph) at an altitude of 43,000 feet in the Bell XS-1, aircraft number 1 (later designated as the Bell X-1). This milestone was achieved on the 50th flight of the XS-1.

The inauguration ceremony of the first helicopter airmail service, which includes experimental flights by the Bell Aircraft B-47, occurs in the New York City area. Over 100,000 letters are carried by the helicopter service on the first day of operation alone.

1940's

An Industry is Born

Exceeding 1,600 mph, the Bell X-1A accomplishes the fastest flight recorded by a piloted aircraft.

Bell Helicopter Corporation is founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bell Aircraft Corporation.

First flight of the Bell Model 47J Ranger occurs. Priced at $63,750, the Ranger has a widened cabin, a new tailrotor system and is powered by a 220 hp Lycoming VO-435-A1B engine.

Bell Aircraft’s jet-powered X-14 VTOL makes its first complete transitional flight at Niagara Falls Airport.

The Bell XV-3 convertiplane becomes the first VTOL aircraft capable of shifting gears in flight.

1950's

Exploring New Possibilities

Dr. Dora Jean Dougherty Strother, flying a Bell 47G-3, sets two female helicopter world records: altitude without payload of 19,385 feet and non-stop distance of 405.83 miles in a straight line without payload. Both accomplishments break previous Russian-held records.

The Bell Rocket Belt performs 396 flights throughout the year before an estimated 1.8 million spectators, including flights at the New York World’s Fair; a double Rocket Belt flight is later featured on national television during the first Super Bowl football game in Los Angeles.

Known also as the HueyCobra or Snake, the Bell AH-1 Cobra makes its first flight. The aircraft later became the backbone of the U.S. Army’s attack helicopter fleet.

Rollout of the first Bell 206 JetRanger takes place at the Hurst, TX, facility. The flight test program is initiated with the first flight occurring on the same day. Successfully derived from the prior YOH-4 “Ugly Duckling,” with a stylistic redesign accredited to Dwayne Jose, Vice President of Marketing, the Bell 206 becomes the most successful commercial helicopter in history.

1960's

Exploring New Possibilities

Bell Aerospace’s body-controlled pogo vehicle, which the operator maneuvers simply by leaning in the direction he wishes to go, registers a successful first flight.

First hover flight of the Bell XV-15 (aka Bell 301) tiltrotor research aircraft takes place at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center.

The Bell 412, destined to become Bell Helicopter Textron’s first four-blade production helicopter, makes its first flight..

A seven-seat Bell 206L2 LongRanger II completes a 5,100-mile flight from Dallas, TX, to Bern, Switzerland. The historic flight, by a light helicopter, is piloted by Karl Wagner and Warner Roschlau from Germany.

1970's

Exploring New Possibilities

Initial concepts begin for what is to become the Bell Boeing V-22, which is Bell Boeing’s answer to the joint-service vertical take-off landing experimental (JVX) program put forth by the Department of Defense. The JVX program calls for a self-deployable aircraft that fulfills missions for every branch of the armed forces, a first for the U.S.

In 1986 The U.S. Department of Defense approves a full-scale Bell Boeing V-22 development program.

Bell AH-1T+ SuperCobra makes its first flight at Bell Helicopter’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, TX.

1980's

Exploring New Possibilities

Bell Helicopter’s Eagle Eye tiltrotor unmanned air vehicle (UAV) flight tests are completed after 14 flights covering 39 hours of flight time, 36 landings, and after reaching an altitude of 120 feet.

Washington, D.C., observes “Tiltrotor Technology Demo Day,” as the MV-22 makes its public debut at the Pentagon.

1990's

Exploring New Possibilities

The first upgraded Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter achieves its first flight at Bell Helicopter’s Amarillo, TX, facility.

Two Bell MV-22B tiltrotor aircrafts successfully cross the Atlantic for the first time. The flight originates in New River, NC, and ends at the Farnborough Aerodrome in the United Kingdom.

Pilots Jennifer Murray and Colin Bodill complete their around-the-world flight via the North and South Poles in a Bell 407. The pair flew approximately 36,000 miles over 34 countries and logged more than 300 hours in the air. The flight originated at Alliance Airport, Fort Worth, TX.

2000's

Exploring New Possibilities

A mock-up of the new Bell 525 Relentless, the world’s first “super-medium” helicopter, is unveiled during Helicopter Association International’s Heli-Expo in Dallas, TX.

Bell Helicopter introduces the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor mock-up at the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Show.

Formally known as the Short Light Single, the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X is introduced during Helicopter Association International’s (HAI) Heli-Expo in Anaheim, CA.

Bell Helicopter unveiled the Bell V-247 tiltrotor, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) that will combine the vertical lift capability of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft.  The revolutionary UAS is designed to provide unmatched long-endurance persistent expeditionary and surveillance capability and lethal reach, as well as runway independence to operate successfully in maritime environments and locations without secure runway availability. 

Bell Helicopter debuts it first concept aircraft, the FCX-001

2010's