For the better part of three years, Bell has been flying the V-280 Valor advanced tiltrotor in anticipation of the U.S. Army choosing a Future Vertical Lift aircraft to replace its workhorse UH-60 Black Hawk.
The experimental prototype originally developed under the Army's Joint Multirole Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD) program is now one of two aircraft enrolled in the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program to do just that.
Still flying weekly for both in-house data gathering and demonstration, Valor has racked up more than 180 flight hours, according to Don Grove, Bell's chief tiltrotor test pilot and lead test pilot for the V-280. It has surpassed its namesake 280 knots to achieve speeds well beyond conventional helicopters.
But what is it like in the cockpit? How long does it take to transition from helicopter-like hover to speedy forward airplane mode? How does the next-gen Valor compare to the V-22 Osprey or the Black Hawk it might replace?
Vertical asked its readers and social media followers to supply the questions and, in this episode of "Rotor Radio", we asked those questions to Bell employees most intimate with the V-280.
Grove and Frank Lazzara, director of V-280 sales and strategy, joined the podcast to answer a dozen or so listener questions about the prototype aircraft, what it could mean for military aviation and whether or not they'll be giving rides any time soon.