Electric aviation has been a nonstop media affair this past year. It is riding on strong tailwinds from the growth and improvement of the electric car and electric bus industries. Overall, 2018 has been a dominant year in the field of electric mobility, after 2017 and prior years laid the foundation. With regard to air travel and aircraft designs, that means getting closer and closer to commercial viability.
Safran & Bell Helicopter Air Taxi
Before you get excited, or not, about a new eVTOL concept, note that this one is still a concept — but one that is maturing in time. Although neither companies have any definitive shapes or designs to show, a conceptual cabin mockup was presented at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada. The mockup was designed by Bell. Still, we do not know if the eVTOL will use traditional helicopter-like rotors, lift wings, etc. or not. What we do know technically is that Bell uses the hybrid electric power system approach developed by Safran.
According to Safran’s senior executive vice president of R&T and innovation, Stéphane Cueille (un grand Merci, Stéphane!), according to FlyingMag: “Thanks to the long and sustained technology-development strategy conducted within the Safran group, we can now offer Bell our hybrid electric power solutions for their next generation products that result in improved performance giving more value to our customers.”
Bell’s director of innovation, Scott Drennan, added that he not only sees the partnership as mutually beneficial, but it is also a part of history. “Our work with Safran is a historical milestone for future transport solutions,” he said.
Making Sense Of What We Know Of The Safran & Bell Helicopter eVTOL Air Taxi
Was that diplomatic enough? While we might not know a lot about the Safran and Bell Helicopter air taxi, all signs seems to lead in that direction — small, two- to six-seat electric aircraft with either very short take-off and landing specs or VTOLs.
Both companies Safran and Bell Helicopter are not unknown in their respective industries. Safran is a well known airspace player that brings to the table its aviation airspace defense experience to combine with Bell’s decades-long history of helicopter flight.
What we look forward to is the mix of helicopter-like, drone-like, encased and not encased solutions we are continuing to see developing. The Safran & Bell Helicopter Air Taxi is yet another example of this diversified and creative field.
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