Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor prototype achieves build completion

Bell Helicopters V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft prototype has achieved 100% build completion at Amarillo Assembly Center in Texas, the company announced today.

According to the manufacturer, the prototype will now begin initial ground tests and the first flight is scheduled this fall.

About V-280 Valor:

The V-280 Valor is a third-generation tilt-rotor aircraft being developed by Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin for the United States Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

The aircraft was officially unveiled at the 2013 Army Aviation Association of America’s (AAAA) Annual Professional Forum and Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas, with a projected first flight in 2017.

In one major difference from the earlier V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, the engines remain in place while the rotors and drive shafts tilt. A driveshaft runs through the straight wing, allowing both prop rotors to be driven by a single engine in the event of an engine loss.

GE Aviation will manufacture the engines for the V-280, with the prototype (air vehicle concept demonstrator, or AVCD) using the General Electric T64.

The fuselage is visually similar to that of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk medium lift helicopter.

The V-280 is reportedly capable of a cruising speed of 280 knots (320 mph; 520 km/h) (hence the name V-280), a top speed of 300 knots (350 mph; 560 km/h), a range of 2,100 nautical miles (2,400 mi; 3,900 km), and an effective combat range of 500 to 800 nmi (580 to 920 mi; 930 to 1,480 km).

The V-280 will have retractable landing gear, a triple-redundant fly by wire control system, and a V-tail configuration. The wings are made of a single section of carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer composite, reducing weight and production costs.

Expected maximum takeoff weight is around 30,000 lb. The V-280 will have a crew of 4 and be capable of transporting up to 14 troops. Dual cargo hooks will give it a lift capacity to carry a 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) M777A2 Howitzer while flying at a speed of 150 knots (170 mph; 280 km/h).

In June 2015, Bell Helicopter’s subcontractor Spirit AeroSystems began assembly of the composite fuselage for the first prototype, which was delivered in September 2015.

The demonstrator aircraft began ground vibration testing in Amarillo during February 2017, with the aircraft reaching 95 percent complete.

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