Bell V-280 Valor Tilt Rotor First Flight

Bell V-280 Valor Tilt Rotor First Flight

Bell Helicopter made the first flight of their V-280 Valor tilt rotor on 18 December 2017.  The aircraft hovered during the short flight at Amarillo, Texas.

Bell V-280 Valor First Flight (note blurred transmission area) (Credit: Bell Helicopter)

Bell V-280 Valor First Flight (note blurred transmission area) (Credit: Bell Helicopter)

Unlike the earlier Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey the V-280, targeted to cruise at 280 kts, does not tilt its engines (two GE T64s) only its rotors.  This eliminates engine lubrication complexity and reduces the hot efflux effects on the ground.  To achieve this engine power is transmitted through a spiral bevel gearbox that transfers power to the proprotor gearbox.  This rotates on two spherical bearings.  Bell are clearly sensitive about the design solution as both video and photographs have been altered to blur the mechanism and preserve the Valor’s modesty.

Bell V-280 Valor First Flight (Credit: Bell Helicopter)

Bell V-280 Valor First Flight (Credit: Bell Helicopter)

In the event of an engine failure, power is transmitted by a cross-shaft, similar to that on the V-22, from the operative engine to the opposite proprotor.

The V-280 had previously conducted ground runs on a test stand at Amarillo, TX:

It features a triple-redundant fly by wire (FBW) control system.

JMR-TD and FVL

The Bell V-280 Valor program is part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative, started in 2013, which runs into 2019. Construction of the V-280 began in June 2015.

The JMR-TD program is the R&D precursor to the Department of Defense’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme that will be the basis for the replacement of the majority of US military rotorcraft and undoubtedly reshape the US rotorcraft industry.

V-280 would be offered to replace Sikorsky H-60s and Bell H-1s under the Army/Marine Corps FVL-Medium or Capability Set 3 programme.

Team Valor

The V-280 program brings together Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt and Spirit AeroSystems (who make the fuselage) – collectively referred to as Team Valor.

SB>1 Defiant

Team Valor’s main rival for FVL is a team of Sikorsky (now part of Lockheed Martin!) and former V-22 partner Boeing, who joined forces to develop the SB>1 Defiant.  This combines a coaxial rotor with a pusher propeller.

SB>1 Defiant (Credit: Sikorsky)

SB>1 Defiant (Credit: Sikorsky)

Features of the SB>1 Defiant (Credit: Sikorsky)

Features of the SB>1 Defiant (Credit: Sikorsky)

Other Bidders

Karem Aircraft and AVX Aircraft are validating their FVL concepts using non-flying test hardware.


Aerossurance has extensive air safety, operations, airworthiness, human factors, aviation regulation and safety analysis experience.  For practical aviation advice you can trust, contact us at: enquiries@aerossurance.com