The race to develop a viable on-demand air transportation is on. At last year’s CES, Bell Helicopter revealed the cabin of its vision of air taxi and at this year’s CES, the Texas helicopter maker follow up with a full-scale Bell Nexus prototype. Ermmm. OK. It is more like a full-scale model than a prototype with tilting and rotating rotors. If you really look at it, the Bell Nexus is really just another helicopter, but with six titling ducted fans instead of the usual main and tail rotor combo found on traditional helicopter. But hey, if they say it is an air taxi, then an air taxi it is then.
Bell Helicopter is not in this endeavor alone though; after all, it is a hybrid electric – an area that is mostly new and that calls for expertise from various companies. According to a report, the hybrid propulsion and drive systems will be provided by Safran, meanwhile EPS will cover the energy storage area and Thales is charged with Flight Control Computer hardware and software. Two other companies, Moog and Garmin will also be involved, with the former to develop the flight control actuation systems and the latter, providing the avionics and vehicle management computer.
Apparently, Bell Helicopter’s vision is not too far away. The company said that it plans to launch this air taxi by 2025. Well, Bell, it looks like you ought to get working because, 5 years is a short time to get all everything put together, testing and getting the necessary approvals and certifications. Bell Helicopter has also taken this opportunity to let visitors to have a go with the company’s Future Flight Controls simulator at CES. The company said that the data gathered from these simulators will help “to determine what actions and interfaces are intuitive to the average potential operator and what prior experiences and abilities contribute to these opinions.”
Images: Bell Helicopter.