Bell reveals B429 Aircraft Lab for Future Autonomy FBW Ops

Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, revealed its Aircraft Laboratory for Future Autonomy (ALFA) based on the Bell 429 commercial aircraft. Developed by Bells Advanced Programs team, ALFA is dedicated to performing flight maneuvers with an aircraft safety system and executing autonomous fly-by-wire flights. The fly-by-wire integration was a critical step in future development of autonomous controls for Bells commercial aircraft, an emerging technology that aims to reduce pilot workload and enhance safety.

“Fly-by-wire flight, coupled with additional capability that are being integrated into ALFA, provide a great foundation for Bell to expand on its autonomous capabilities,” said Jason Hurst, executive vice president, Engineering, Bell. This aircraft will serve as a flying lab that will inform future autonomous technology development, which we can ultimately leverage to deliver the best rotorcraft solutions to global operators.

ALFA’s aircraft safety system separates safety functions from flight control functions, allowing for rapid development and evaluation of novel flight control technology without compromising overall safety. The aircraft completed its first flight at Bells Commercial Assembly and Delivery Centre in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada and is now being used for further exploration at Bells Flight Research Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Bell is committed to developing technology that will provide the best possible, advanced solution for current and future customers. Bells Advanced Programs team continues to explore technology development to elevate Bells products for our Commercial and Military customers.