The Montréal-Ottawa chapter of the Vertical Flight Society hosted a presentation by Paul Wilson, Chief Engineer of the V-280 Valor program on March 27th, 2019 in Mirabel. An audience of 130 industry professionals and students were on hand to hear about the development of Bell’s effort in the Future Vertical Lift, which is a US Army initiative to replace aging helicopter models with clean sheet designs that have more capability. The V-280, a fast and sleek tiltrotor, is competing against the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant coaxial helicopter that features a pusher propeller for forward thrust.
What gives the V-280 better performance than the SB>1, which recently performed its first flight? Paul emphasized the efficiency of the wing lift for increased speed and range, and also the inherent survivability of tiltrotors where the engines and large rotating parts are far from the passengers and are pushed away in the event of ground strikes. Some have asserted that the Sikorsky technology will be more agile, but Paul assured that with greater rotor flapping ability than the previous generation V-22 on a smaller, lighter aircraft, the V-280 has at least as much agility.
The quantity of potential orders required a scalable design to keep costs down. They decided on a wing that is a constant-cross section rectangular planform with no sweep or dihedral. The stabilizer consists of a V-tail in which both stabilizer wings are the same assembly part number – the fly-by-wire software takes care of control mixing. It may be simplified compared to the V-22, but Paul assures that it is refined and optimized. He emphasized that tiltrotor technology is already mature; the X-3 was first flown in 1955 and was followed by the XV-15, then the Bell-Augusta 609 which is soon to be certified for civilian use, and the V-22 and now the V-280. After only 5 years of design and testing, the V-280 has already reached its intended 280 knot speed. We may well see more tiltrotors in the sky soon.
After the presentation Paul and many of the attendees chatted and enjoyed the dinner buffet. The Montreal-Ottawa Vertical Flight Society thanks Paul Wilson and all the attendees for an enjoyable evening!