Tired of wasting time in traffic? Maybe someday you’ll take this air taxi instead.

The Bell Nexus is the helicopter company’s solution for quick, convenient and comfortable urban transportation.

By M.d Seaton 24/02/2019

The field of air-taxi prototypes and concepts is becoming crowded—just like the city streets that have spurred the development of these relatively small, passenger-carrying, vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft. Airbus, Uber, Kittyhawk, Joby Aviation, Workhorse and Lilium are among the established companies and start-ups that, in recent years, have introduced designs or mockups for VTOLs that someday may transport us quickly and conveniently around and between cities by flying above the automobile traffic. Even Audi is hedging its bets on the future of urban transportation by dabbling in an autonomous VTOL design.

The latest air-taxi concept seems to be among the most viable, because it comes from one of the world’s leading helicopter manufacturers. In January, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Bell Helicopter introduced a full-scale mockup of the Bell Nexus, a four-passenger, hybrid-electric VTOL featuring six 2.4-metre diameter fans that tilt, so that the aircraft can instantly transition from a vertical takeoff to horizontal flight. (At the 2018 CES, Bell unveiled just a cabin mockup for an autonomous air taxi.)

Bell has been producing helicopters since the mid-1940s, and as the builder of the V-22 Osprey and the V-280 Valor tiltrotor military aircraft, it has plenty of experience with vehicles that take off and land vertically like a helicopter and fly horizontally like an aeroplane

Plans call for the Nexus to initially be flown by a pilot, but eventually it could fly autonomously. The aircraft, which will be made of carbon fibere and weigh about 2950 kilograms, will have a range of about 240 kilometres and a top speed of roughly 240km/h.. It will be small enough to take off from and land on a landing pad that is 12 by 12 metres, which is the about size of most helipads.

The mockup presented at CES cannot fly, but Bell is working on a flying prototype at its headquarters in Texas and hopes to begin flight testing in 2023 and maybe have the Nexus in service by 2024. The Nexus represents a collaboration between Bell and several other companies, including Garmin, which is handling the avionics.

Plans for the Nexus don’t call for a whole-aircraft parachute, like the one that the Cirrus Vision Jet and some other air-taxi concepts have, but Bell will include significant safety measures. For example, if the gas-turbine engine that drives the six fans fails, the onboard battery will provide enough power to safely land the aircraft. And the Nexus will be able to continue flying safely if one of those six fans becomes disabled.

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

Meet The McLaren Artura

The marque’s first series-production high-performance hybrid.

By Viju Mathew

18/02/2021

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Finally Unveiled

The latest out of Stuttgart laps the Nurburgring some 17 seconds faster than its predecessor.

By Terry Christodoulou

17/02/2021

Bugatti Just Unveiled The First Centodieci Prototype

The final 10 hypercars are expected to roll out next year.

By Rachel Cormack

17/02/2021

Jaguar Land Rover Will Go Fully Electric

The first all-electric Land Rover will debut 2024.

By Terry Christodoulou

16/02/2021

Land Rover Defender V8 Trophy Revealed

The old Defender has learnt some new tricks.

By Terry Christodoulou

11/02/2021

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected