Bell Helicopter: Best Concept Future Vertical Lift Helicopter – BELL NEXUS
The air taxis are coming—for real. The 2019 CES reveal of Bell’s air taxi concept, formally dubbed the Bell Nexus, betrays an approach that’s both entirely bought in to the idea of high-tech, electric-powered, vertically-flying, mega-multirotors summoned by smartphone app…and patently dismissive of everyone else’s approach to the challenge.
For starters, there’s the aircraft’s proposed propulsion system. Rather than being a full-on battery-electric flying machine, the Bell Nexus is a hybrid that uses a single turbine engine to generate electricity for the six motors that each spin massive eight-foot-diameter fans, as well as batteries to power them. This signals a realistic awareness of the current state of battery technology. In short, the company says battery capacity is simply not advancing fast enough to ensure the robust speed, range, and mission frequency to meet the expectations and needs of a nascent air taxi industry expected to be up and running by the middle of the next decade. Nexus has been designed to speed along at 150 mph for up to 150 miles, something it says battery tech alone simply can’t handle.
That range isn’t just a bragging right. It’s essential. As one engineer I spoke with recently pointed out, for instance, an aircraft targeting an air taxi service range of just 30 miles per hop would still need more than 150 miles of range, once loitering, flight-plan diversion, and return-to-starting-point demands are factored in. Most urban helipads that air taxis are going to use won’t allow for a bunch of aircraft to be just sitting there charging all day; they’ll need enough onboard reserves to go both to the destination and back, and also to hang around in the air if there’s nasty weather or other trouble at the return destination.
#BellHelicopter #BellNexus #VerticalLiftHelicopter
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