Optimal cruise speed

The Bell V-280 Valor successfully achieved its namesake optimal cruise speed of 280 knots/322 mph/519 km/h on Wednesday, 23 January 2019 at our Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas.

Bell V-280 Valor achieves key milestone: forward flight at 280 knots/322 mph/519 km/h
Bell V-280 Valor achieves key milestone: forward flight at 280 knots/322 mph/519 km/h

Building on a full year’s worth of testing and more than 85 hours of flight time, Bell’s V-280 Valor reached its namesake cruising speed of 280 knots/322 mph/519 km/h true airspeed.

Bell and Team Valor continue to methodically and very successfully expand the flight envelope. The aircraft continues to prove its performance is well beyond legacy rotorcraft and will deliver revolutionary capability for warfighters as part of the Future of Vertical Lift (FVL) program.

«It is a remarkable achievement to hit this airspeed for the V-280 Valor in just over a year of flight testing. Beyond the exemplary speed and agility of this aircraft, this significant milestone is yet another proof point that the V-280 is mature technology, and the future is now for FVL capability set 3», said Keith Flail, vice president of Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell.

Purpose-built to conduct long range assault at twice the speed and range of existing medium lift helicopters, the V-280’s technical maturity demonstrates that close collaboration between government and industry can deliver transformational capabilities in a rapid and sustainable process.

«Cruising at twice the speed of legacy helicopters, with double the range, really changes the way the U.S. military can enable multi-domain operations. By eliminating forward refueling points alone, leaders can focus on operational goals while minimizing logistical burdens», said Ryan Ehinger, V-280 program manager at Bell.

Additionally, Bell’s digital design and design-as-built methodology for the V-280 focused on creating a sustainable and affordable aircraft. The team took great care to simplify designs and advance technology readiness to inform requirements for FVL CS3.

As the program moves into 2019, V-280 flight testing will continue to prove out Bell’s key performance parameters and reduce FVL risk in the U.S. Army led Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program. The next stages will expand the performance envelope highlighting further low-speed agility maneuvers, angles of bank and autonomous flight.

These milestones continue to demonstrate that the V-280 Valor is ready and that the Future of Vertical Lift is now.

The latest flight statistics include:

  • Forward flight at 280 knots/322 mph/519 km/h true airspeed;
  • Over 85 hours of flight and more than 180 rotor turn hours;
  • In-flight transitions between cruise mode and vertical takeoff and landing;
  • 45-degree banked turns at 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h indicated airspeed;
  • 4500 feet/1,372 m per minute rate of climb and sustained flight at 11,500 feet/3,505 m altitude;
  • Single flight ferry of over 370 miles/595.5 km;
  • Demonstrated low and high-speed agility with fly-by-wire controls.