Bell will start building its 360 Invictus helicopter this week, according to a company official.
Bell is developing the 360 Invictus for the US Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft-Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) programme.
Chris Gehler, Bell’s 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 the company has already begun building gearboxes, rotor pieces, and airframe structure for the 360 Invictus. Bell is also about to begin building the rotor blades for the aircraft and has already started manufacturing main rotor blade extensions. It has already built blades that it used to perform process verification and destructive testing, Gehler said.
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. The company wants the aircraft to be ready for its first flight in the fourth quarter of 2022.