Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft has taken to the skies for the first time. The December 18 flight at the company’s Amarillo Assembly Center in Texas comes only a little over two months after the prototype made its first tethered flight at the same location.
The aircraft, which is designed to fly twice as fast as conventional helicopters, is being developed as part of the US Department of Defense’s Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative to create a new generation of tilt-rotor airframes.
The Valor was developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt, and Spirit AeroSystems. According to Bell, the V-280 is a designed to be lighter, simpler, and less expensive than the V-22 Osprey.
The extensive use of composites in honeycomb sandwich configurations with large-cell carbon cores in the fuselage, wing and tail section, allowed engineers to achieve a 30 percent improvement in weight savings despite the integrated cabin armor.