Bell will start building its 360 Invictus helicopter this week. The company is developing the 360 Invictus for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft-Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) programme, according to a company official.
Chris Gehler, Bell FARA vice president and programme director, told Janes on 8 October ahead of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual trade show that Bell has already begun building gearboxes, rotor pieces, and airframe structure for the 360 Invictus. Bell is about to begin building the rotor blades for the aircraft and has already started manufacturing main rotor blade extensions. The company, he said, has already built blades that it used to performed process verification and destructive testing.
Many of the 360 Invictus’ drive system and rotor components are in manufacturing and nearing completion. Gehler expects most of the drive system and rotor components to be completed by December. This is because Bell traditionally prioritises building the gearboxes and rotor system first to test them in a drive system test lab to reduce future maintenance. Bell will build the 360 Invictus in Amarillo, Texas.
Bell intends to have the 360 Invictus assembled by the third quarter of 2022 for a ground run in the same timeframe. Bell wants the aircraft ready for its first flight in the fourth quarter of 2022.
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