Texas-based Bell Textron has unveiled a new 140,000-square-foot manufacturing technology center (MTC) that will support the company’s work on the US Army’s future vertical lift (FVL) program.
Located in Fort Worth, Texas, the MTC will be a proving ground where Bell will test and refine technologies and processes for FVL aircraft. As outlined in a release, the facility provides capabilities that span core manufacturing of rotor and drive systems, critical infrastructure and final assembly.
Bell is one of the two companies down-selected by the US Army for the development of prototype FVL aircraft. The company is adapting its V280 tiltrotor aircraft for the army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft requirements. The other competitor is the Boeing-Sikorsky team with the SB>1 Defiant aircraft. Bell is also taking part in the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program with the 360 Invictus prototype.
“The MTC is the next step in successfully deploying new manufacturing technologies and processes into Bell’s future factories,” said Glenn Isbell, vice president, Rapid Prototyping & Manufacturing Innovation. “These future factories working together with our teammates and suppliers, will be designed to enable high-quality, high-rate production of the Bell V-280 Valor, Bell 360 Invictus and other future aircraft.”
Bell further said that the MTC would benefit from digital connectivity and integration, with the entire facility being monitored and controlled by a network of IT, Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity systems that manage the inflow and outflow of materials. By deploying a networked software infrastructure, the MTC will produce a digital twin of itself that gives everyone a common operating picture of the building, the equipment and the processes.