Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, revealed the configuration and full-scale vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) air taxi vehicle during CES 2019. The air taxi, named Bell Nexus, is powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system and features Bell’s signature powered lift concept incorporating six tilting ducted fans that are designed to safely and efficiently redefine air travel.
“As space at the ground level becomes limited, we must solve transportation challenges in the vertical dimension – and that’s where Bell’s on-demand mobility vision takes hold,” said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO, Bell. “The industry has anticipated the reveal of our air taxi for some time, so Bell is very proud of this moment. We believe the design, taken with our strategic approach to build this infrastructure, will lead to the successful deployment of the Bell Nexus to the world.”
Bell Nexus means the nexus of transport and technology and of comfort and convenience. Nexus captures the long-sought-after vision of quick air travel with a unique in-flight experience, keeping passengers connected to their lives and saving valuable time.
Team Nexus, consisting of Bell, Safran, EPS, Thales, Moog and Garmin, are collaborating on Bell’s VTOL aircraft and on-demand mobility solutions. Bell will lead the design, development and production of the VTOL systems. Safran will provide the hybrid propulsion and drive systems, EPS will provide the energy storage systems, Thales will provide the Flight Control Computer (FCC) hardware and software, Moog will develop the flight control actuation systems and Garmin will integrate the avionics and the vehicle management computer (VMC).
Autonomous Pod Transport (APT)
Alongside the debut of Bell Nexus, Bell featured the Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) – an exciting new venture for Bell. The APT family varies in payload capability that can serve many mission sets from medical, law enforcement, offshore missions and on-demand delivery services. Bell is expanding into a new industry to show the full spectrum of our capabilities and the real-world challenges APT will address.
Future Flight Controls
Bell’s Future Flight Controls simulator was a new experience for CES participants this year. Bell is actively collecting data to help shape the future flight controls of aviation. Data from these simulators will be used to determine what actions and interfaces are intuitive to the average potential operator and what prior experiences and abilities contribute to these opinions.
Urban air travel is coming closer to the masses through recent advancements in technology and software. The critical last step is designing a flight control ecosystem that allows individuals to safely and efficiently operate urban air vehicles.