bell 407 – The Evolution of Vertical Flight

The Evolution of Vertical Flight: An informative piece about how the vertical flight industry has grown and how the introduction of the Bell 407 fits in.

In the 1940s, helicopters were virtually unknown except to a few hundred military personnel and aviation enthusiasts. It would have been impossible to predict what this new type of aircraft would do for mankind.

During World War II, the helicopter demonstrated its utility as a troop transport, medical evacuation and anti-submarine patrol vehicle. Since then, many lives have been saved by medical evacuation helicopters. Around the world, helicopters are used as police vehicles and for search and rescue missions. Helicopters are also used extensively for passenger transport, executive travel and in support of offshore oil exploration.

Values of helicopter production increased from under $100 million in 1960 to over $1 billion by 1990. They have become an indispensable part of modern life-and no one is more aware of this than Bell Helicopter Textron. This year marks our 65th year in business. In that time we’ve seen the industry grow from less than 50 percent of U.S.-produced commercial helicopters to nearly 90 percent today. We’ve seen our technology exported around the world (Bell Helicopter Textron’s orders are 75 percent export). And we’ve seen our product

The Evolution of Vertical Flight

An informative piece about how the vertical flight industry has grown and how the introduction of the Bell 407 fits in.

By John McHale, Editorial Director

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first flight of a gas turbine-powered helicopter. While most of us in the military business are not old enough to have witnessed that flight, we certainly have witnessed the evolution and growth of that industry over the past 50 years. Today, helicopters are used more than ever for military, commercial and civil applications, and are on their way to making vertical flight as commonplace as fixed-wing aircraft.

The first turbine-powered helicopter to fly was the Sud Aviation Alouette II powered by an Artouste turbine engine, which flew on June 12, 1955. The first U.S.-built turbine helicopter was the Hiller XH-44/YH-32 Hornet which took its maiden flight on March 9, 1956.

Since then there have been several major advances in vertical lift technologies. These include: development of composite rotors; fly-by-wire control systems; improved transmissions; advanced bearings; computerized monitoring systems; and new engines with improved power and fuel efficiency. These advances have given today’s rotorcraft manufacturers

A long time ago, aerial warfare consisted of flying a hot-air balloon in the sky, which was good for reconnaissance but not much else. Then, along came the Wright Brothers and the first fixed-wing aircraft. While airplanes are great at flying fast and far, they rely on runways to get off the ground and land.

In 1907, a man named Louis Blériot changed all that by flying his airplane across the English Channel. In 1909, the U.S. Army followed suit by buying its first airplane. The following year, it also purchased its first helicopter – which didn’t actually fly.

Today, we have airplanes like the Bell 407 that can do both: fly fast and maneuver at low airspeed – with or without a runway. With over 1,200 in service worldwide and an additional 200 expected to be delivered in the next few years, this versatile helicopter is part of an industry that continues to evolve as we seek new ways to reach new heights.

The Bell 407 is the next evolutionary step in the development of the light single, multi-purpose helicopter. The Bell 407 is a development of the 206L-4 LongRanger IV and incorporates several major design changes over its predecessor. Its advanced design and technology help it to achieve performance levels that are generally associated with more powerful helicopters.

The most obvious change is to be found in the new four-bladed main rotor system, which has been adapted from Bell’s groundbreaking 222UT. The main rotor blades have a new carbon fiber spar with a titanium root. The hub itself is machined from a solid block of aluminum alloy and incorporates integral rotor brake and servo cylinder mounting pads.

Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Ft. Worth, Texas, USA developed the 407 under contract to Agusta SpA of Italy who had already announced their intention to market this aircraft as the Agusta-Bell AB 412EP (European Production). Agusta SpA will manufacture some major assemblies for the 407 including airframe components and gearboxes.

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, is pleased to announce the introduction of the Bell 407GXP, which offers customers exceptional performance and value. The new model is the latest evolution of the popular Bell 407 platform and integrates the best of Bell Helicopter’s advanced technologies from across its product line.

The new model delivers increased performance with greater payload capacity, an advanced four-axis autopilot and HeliSAS® stability augmentation system for superior flight control, and an enhanced cabin for added comfort. The aircraft will be on display at Heli-Expo 2015 in Orlando, Fla.

“The proven Bell 407 platform continues to be one of our most successful helicopters,” said Danny Maldonado, executive vice president of Sales & Marketing at Bell Helicopter. “We are pleased to introduce this new model that builds on everything that has made it such a tremendous success while also incorporating leading edge technologies from our other products.”

The new aircraft is powered by the Rolls-Royce Model 250-C47E/4 engine with dual channel FADEC. The C47 turboshaft engine produces 1,050 shaft horsepower (shp) for take-off and incorporates full authority digital engine controls (FADEC

Bell Helicopter Textron Canada Ltd. (BHTCL) is a major player in this industry, with a legacy of certified, world-class helicopters that have set standards for performance and innovation. The Bell 407 helicopter, the latest member of this family of aircraft, is a modern, sophisticated, single-engine machine designed to meet the demands of both the commercial and military markets.

The 407 continues the tradition of Bell’s high performance commercial helicopters, including the 206 JetRanger series and the Model 222/230/430 family. The 407 builds on these designs with a new rotor system and advanced technology such as composite blades and an integrated glass cockpit. Powered by an Allison 250-C47 turboshaft engine, rated at 650 shp (485 kW), the 407 features an advanced four-blade rotor system with soft-in-plane flexbeams and composite main rotor blades, which enhance performance while reducing vibration levels to those found in two-bladed rotor systems. The new rotor system also provides improved handling qualities during all phases of flight.

The 407 is a derivative of the Model 206L4 LongRanger IV; however, it incorporates several airframe changes to accommodate higher gross weights and increased performance requirements. The fuselage was lengthened

The Evolution of Vertical Flight

The vertical flight industry has grown from a craft to a profitable business in the last century. While the first helicopter flew in 1939, it wasn’t until after World War II that its use became a common activity for military and civilian purposes. The technology has advanced steadily over time and there have been many significant developments in the past 50 years.

A major step forward for helicopters was the introduction of turboshaft engines, which made them faster, more powerful and more reliable. This technology was developed during World War II by German engineers. However, Germany lost the war and the Allies confiscated most of their aircraft production equipment and intellectual property rights. Despite this setback, German engineers quickly applied their knowledge to other areas of the aircraft industry such as missiles, missiles guidance systems and gas turbines. These advancements helped drive the industry forward by making helicopters faster and more reliable.

Turbine Engines Powering Helicopters

In 1943 an engineer named Frank Whittle patented his jet engine design in England. Whittle had worked on gas turbine design since 1928 but British patent laws were slow to grant him legal protection for his ideas. His idea of using a turbine to extract power from high-temperature exhaust gases was eventually adopted by German engineers who needed faster engines

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