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Bell’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platforms have been the focus of its attendance at the Farnborough International Airshow, with the company promoting the capabilities of its candidates for the U.S. Army’s Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) programs. The first-generation mockup of the V-280 Valor is the centerpiece of Bell’s presence, creating considerable interest among overseas defence officials.
During a media briefing at the event, Bell CEO Mitch Snyder praised the cooperation that had taken place between the company and the U.S. Army, saying that significant progress had been made with the FLRAA proposal.
“We currently working through the CD&RR [Competitive Design and Risk Review] phase, which is taking it to the preliminary design review stage, and we have been working closely with our counterparts,” he said. “Many of the subsystems we have been finishing up in these areas. In addition, we have been preparing for the award announcement, which we anticipate very soon.”
In anticipation of the announcement, Bell has established a digital manufacturing technology center. Snyder said the company was keen not only to develop the digital design of the aircraft but wanted to prepare the company to be ready to build the aircraft. Part of this work has seen Bell set up what Snyder calls “a factory of the future,” with a lot of focus on producing high-quality parts — first time, every time.
“We are not only looking at how we will design the aircraft, but how we will build it as well,” he said. “All this data is passed back to the manufacturing technology center, which allows us to adjust any processes to make them faster or act on any issues.”
He said Bell has focussed heavily on reducing risk across the FLRAA program.