Jan 012017
 

Helicopters have always be designed and built for a mission. Bell Helicopters made it their motto (“One Bell. On a Mission”). The reason is obvious: their cost to buy and maintain have always limited purchases for recreational use. However, new designs such as the Ehang 184 or the Volocopter start changing the market into a more affordable pricing.

The most important change, though, might be one of the least noticed these days: Airbus Helicopters is being rebranded and will be called Airbus, just Airbus. Airbus Helicopters, formerly Eurocopter, is famous and acknowledged as the first civilian helicopter manufacturer in the world, designing and manufacturing reliable aircraft. Why, then, take the risk of losing the benefit of the history?

With the gigantic new market of autonomous drones, the technologies are becoming mature for new aircraft.

Airbus is taking the path of new airborne vehicles with rotary wings, and helicopters as we know them will only be a small part of it. It is all a matter of definition: while a helicopter has one main rotor and a tail rotor, or several main rotors, the use of push propellers or tilt rotors draws the designs closer to the limits of the definition. Furthermore, the use of fixed pitch propellers, in order to produce lift instead of propulsive thrust, confuses the difference between airplanes and helicopters.

Super Frelon rotor head

Super Frelon rotor head, variable pitch

DJI Phantom 2

DJI Phantom 2, fixed pitch rotors. Is it an airplane without wings and flying upward?

The diversity of missions that can be fulfilled by aircraft is overwhelming. Many companies around the entire world come with new ideas and answer problems that are not even existing yet: E-Volo, Zee.Aero, Joby Aviation, Ehang, Airbus Vahana, City Airbus…

All these new design will make the word “helicopter” obsolete. While the current “Sikorsky” configuration (main rotor and a tail rotor) will still be the best design for many missions, alternative solutions will emerge. Separable fuselage to load the cargo, modular engine pods, optionally piloted vehicles, variable number of engines, all these designs will only be limited by the imagination of engineers, for a safer, cleaner, and efficient future.

Urban mobility seen by Airbus (C) Airbus

Urban mobility seen by Airbus (C) Airbus

Jun 192015
 

Airbus Helicopters, Bell Helicopters, Turkish Aerospace, Russian Helicopters… The 2015 edition of the Paris Air Show was far from being dedicated to the sole helicopters, but several manufacturers were there on the display.

Paris Air Show: mostly planes

Don’t get the wrong idea, Paris Air Show is mostly for planes

The French Army is proud of the NH90 TTH, used in operation in Africa and middle east.

NH90 TTH, French Army (ALAT)

NH90 TTH, French Army (ALAT)

NH90 TTH, French Army (ALAT)

NH90 TTH, French Army (ALAT)

Bell displayed their 429 WLG and 407 GX. Many thanks to Gabriel and his explanations about the piloting interface!

Bell 429 WLG

Bell 429 WLG

Bell 429 WLG

Bell 429 WLG

Bell 429 WLG (wheeled Landing Gear)

Bell 429 WLG (wheeled Landing Gear)

Bell 429 WLG

Bell 429 WLG

Bell 429 WLG, cockpit

Bell 429 WLG, cockpit

Bell 429 WLG, cockpit

Bell 429 WLG, cockpit

Bell 429 WLG (wheeled Landing Gear)

Bell 429 WLG (wheeled Landing Gear)

Bell 429 WLG, luggage compartment

Bell 429 WLG, luggage compartment

Bell 429 WLG, tail rotor

Bell 429 WLG, tail rotor

Bell 407 GX

Bell 407 GX

Bell 407 GX, VIP cabin

Bell 407 GX, VIP cabin

Bell 407 GX, cockpit and instruments panel

Bell 407 GX, cockpit and instruments panel

Bell 407 GX, upper panel

Bell 407 GX, upper panel

Bell 407 GX, cyclic

Bell 407 GX, cyclic

Bell 407 GX, collective

Bell 407 GX, collective

The US forces displayed a strong presence.

CH-47 F Chinook

CH-47 F Chinook

CH-47 F Chinook

CH-47 F Chinook

CH-47 F Chinook

CH-47 F Chinook

CH-47 F Chinook

CH-47 F Chinook

UH-72A Lakota

UH-72A Lakota

UH-72A Lakota

UH-72A Lakota

UH-72A Lakota

UH-72A Lakota

AH-64 D Apache, US Army

AH-64 D Apache, US Army

Airbus Group had a huge display, but no access. You could only watch from afar.

H145M mock-up

H145M mock-up

H135 from the French Gendarmerie

H135 from the French Gendarmerie

H160, mock-up

H160, mock-up

The X3 is for loan at the Air and Space Museum in Le Bourget.

Eurocopter X3

Eurocopter X3

Eurocopter X3

Eurocopter X3

Eurocopter X3

Eurocopter X3

Russian Helicopters could not bring any real helicopter.

Mil Mi-171 A2 mock-up

Mil Mi-171 A2 mock-up

Mi-28 NE mock-up

Mi-28 NE mock-up

Ka-32 A11BC mock-up

Ka-32 A11BC mock-up

Mi-26 T2 mock-up

Mi-26 T2 mock-up

Mi-26 T2 mock-up

Mi-26 T2 mock-up

Mi-26 T2 mock-up with a CAT bagger

Mi-26 T2 mock-up with a CAT bagger

Mi-26 T2 mock-up

Mi-26 T2 mock-up

Mi-35 M mock-up

Mi-35 M mock-up

 

Bo105... does it fly?

Bo105… does it fly?

Bo105... apparently not fit for flight

Bo105… apparently not fit for flight

The Turkish industry presents the Atak helicopter.

T-129 Atak, Turkish Aerospace

T-129 Atak, Turkish Aerospace

T-129 Atak, Turkish Aerospace

T-129 Atak, Turkish Aerospace

The French Navy with the Caiman, NH90 NFH.

NH90 NFH Caiman, French Marine

NH90 NFH Caiman, French Marine

NH90 NFH Caiman, French Marine

NH90 NFH Caiman, French Marine

NH90 NFH, French Navy

NH90 NFH, French Navy

MU90 torpedo for NH90 NFH, France

MU90 torpedo for NH90 NFH, France

HAD Tiger, French Army

HAD Tiger, French Army

HAD Tiger, French Army

HAD Tiger, French Army

Parrot displayed the eXom, used for close observation and inspection of buildings.

eXom drone with TV and IR cameras

eXom drone with TV and IR cameras

eXom drone with TV and IR cameras

eXom drone with TV and IR cameras

Ground control station for eXom drone with TV and IR cameras

Ground control station for eXom drone with TV and IR cameras

Parrot made their BeBop dance together 🙂

Parrot BeBop

Parrot BeBop

Parrot BeBop

Parrot BeBop

Sep 222013
 
EC130 mercy helicopter at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

Today was a cold spring day at Grand Central airport, in Gauteng province, South Africa. Strong crosswinds let only a few helicopters take-off.

 

Bell 407 and R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

Bell 407 and R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

Bell 407 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

Bell 407 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

EC130 mercy helicopter at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

EC130 mercy helicopter at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

EC130 mercy helicopter at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

EC130 mercy helicopter at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

Bell 407 and R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

Bell 407 and R44 at FAGC airport, Gauteng province, South Africa

Apr 102013
 

Bell Helicopter announced today a fully new aircraft, although drawings were already released months ago (see the article of Aviation Week).

It should perform well in hot and high altitude conditions, 95°F (35°C) and 6000 ft (1830 m).

Considering the previous experience developed together with Agusta Westland on the AW609 (first called BA609, then AB609) and Boeing on the V-22, Bell Helicopter is fully able to produce a performing and reliable tilt rotor aircraft.

The Bell brochure compares directly to the UH-60 Black Hawk, emphasing a range capability up to 2100 nm (almost 3900 km) during self deployment. Of course, the self deployment is in a ferry configuration, flying with auxiliary fuel tanks and almost no pax.

The video wants to display an aircraft that makes kids dream, brings the GIs back home safe and provides the “state of the art” technologies: video transmission from drones and… mission displays. In a time of financial crisis, advertisers would rather show reliable, useful and proven technologies than a futuristic and expensive toy.

Bell V-280 Valor FVL Airplane Mode

The aircraft could be proposed in 2 versions: tactical transport and combat. Beside possible door mounted guns for the transport variant, the armed version would carry weapons:

  • in pods under stubwings (rocket launcher, guns and cannons, missiles) ;
  • in a closed weapon cargo under the belly (for a stealth capability?) ;
  • in a chin mounted turret, possibily with a heavy 30 mm caliber.


Bell V-280 Valor FVL Landing Scene

Bell V-280 Valor FVL Low-Level

Bell V-280 Valor FVL Rear Quarter Attack

 

See the official dedicated website here: http://bellv280.com

Who are the competitors?

This aircraft arrives in a context of studies by the US forces, wishing for an Armed Scout and a JMR helicopter. The Armed Scout should be a smaller helicopter, but the Valor could still compete with the Sikorsky S-97 Raider and the Agusta Westland AW139M.

On the other hand, the Bell’s proposal can be compared with the Joint Multi Role concept from Boeing and Sikorsky, as a fast helicopter.

The main question remains open though: which weight do you want for an Armed Scout and a Joint Multi Role helicopter?