The U.S. Army has recently delivered the T901 Improved Turbine Engine to Bell Textron Inc's Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas, signaling the start of the next stage in its Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition participation.
With the engine in hand, the Bell team has hit the ground running and have installed it on the Bell 360 Invictus competitive prototype. Since beginning the build in late 2020, Bell and Team Invictus have made great progress and had completed 96% of the competitive prototype by early 2023. Now that the engine has been received and installed, the team is moving closer to first flight later next year.
As Bell prepares for flight tests, the T901 engine, also a new development program, is still progressing through developmental testing with GE for the Army and has an expected clearance for flight in 2024.
On the way to first flight for the Bell 360, there are some crucial steps that must be completed to ensure the safe and rapid execution of a flight test program. That includes functionally testing the aircraft, the Test Readiness Review and conducting restrained ground runs. This work will occur concurrently as the Army completes final testing for flight using the T901.
The engine installation marks a key milestone for the Bell 360 Invictus. With an eye toward first flight, Bell and Team Invictus are ready to demonstrate how the Bell 360 can transform the Army's reconnaissance mission with more speed, reach and lethality.
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