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Army Pilots Begin Flight-Testing Bell Air Vehicle Concept Demonstrator

U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command warrant officer is first to fly the new tilt-rotor

AMRDEC News Release

Bell Helicopter’s Air Vehicle Concept Demonstrator aircraft, funded under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration program, was flown for the first time by an Army pilot Feb. 7.

Chief Warrant Officer 3, Tom Wiggins, of the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command conducted the flight at the Bell Flight Test Facility in Amarillo, Tex.

“With Army combat-experienced, experimental test pilots embedded in Bell’s test team, we have a unique opportunity to help bring the project across the finish line and also develop insights valuable to the FVL initiative. We’re very proud of CW3 Wiggins,” said Director of the Aviation Development Directorate, Dr. Bill Lewis.

During the flight, he performed Hover In Ground Effect repositioning, pattern flight and roll-on landings.

The JMR TD is an Army science & technology effort designed to develop, expand and demonstrate new capabilities in vertical lift technology. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center leads the JMR TD effort. It is a precursor to the Department of Defense Future Vertical Lift program.

Bell V-280 hover

Bell Helicopter’s Air Vehicle Concept Demonstrator aircraft was flown for the first time by an Army pilot Feb. 7. During the flight, the pilot performed Hover In Ground Effect repositioning, pattern flight, and roll-on landings. Bell Helicopter photo

“One of the keys to this successful S&T demonstration effort is the nature by which the government and industry partners have completely teamed not only during the analysis, design and early qualification efforts, but also for the flight test activity,” said JMR TD Program Director Dan Bailey.

FVL will deliver the next generation of vertical lift aircraft to the Joint Warfighter, providing the speed, range, payload, and mission systems critical to successfully engaging the enemy in future operations.

AMRDEC personnel have been fully involved in the demonstrator effort including integration of experimental test pilots and flight test engineers into the mixed flight test team. Army pilots will take part in additional flights throughout the test program.

V-280 Army pilot

The V-280 tilt-rotor in the hover during a test flight. The butterfly tail is evident here, as well as well as the more helicopter-like fuselage. Bell Helicopters photo

“With Army combat-experienced, experimental test pilots embedded in Bell’s test team, we have a unique opportunity to help bring the project across the finish line and also develop insights valuable to the FVL initiative. We’re very proud of CW3 Wiggins,” said Director of the Aviation Development Directorate, Dr. Bill Lewis.

Four agreements were awarded under the JMR TD to AVX Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, Karem Aircraft, and a team of Sikorsky-Boeing for initial designs, with the Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing efforts funded to build and fly technology demonstrator aircraft.

Bell’s first flight with an Army pilot is another on-schedule milestone in an effort that was awarded in September 2013, with Preliminary Design Review in 2014, Critical Design Review and start of aircraft assembly in mid-2015, and assembly complete in early 2017.