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Bell Helicopter, a Textron company, has announced that the Bell V-280 Valor prototype aircraft has successfully achieved controlled conversion from 95- to 75-degree pylon and back — allowing for full hover and low speed agility maneuvering.
The aircraft will continue ground-run testing at the Bell Helicopter Amarillo Assembly Center in Texas, where it will undergo a series of functional tests running all aircraft systems and flight controls in preparation for the first flight this fall.
The “third-generation” tiltrotor is Bell’s submission for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program, a precursor to the Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program to identify a replacement for the service’s existing medium-lift helicopter fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and Boeing AH-64 Apaches.
The controlled conversion is the latest in a series of milestones for the aircraft. Bell announced completion of the build process for the prototype in September, and ground testing at 100 percent rotor RPM in early October.