Tech

Bell’s Future Concept: The FCX-100 Helicopter

Pretty much every motor show big or small brings with it a showroom’s worth of concept cars claiming to express the future of motoring. Jaguar does it more often than Family Guy does cutaway gags. It’s an intriguing if usually unapplicable facet of shows that can otherwise feel a bit samey.

It’s unusual however to find the same idea in the world of aviation; even more so when it comes to helicopters.

Jets have a certain cache to them, the profile of hunting eagles compared to the bloated pelicans of vertical lift. It’s simply a matter of making sure they’re both fit for task so what more could you ask of a helicopter than getting you off the ground without a runway?

According to Bell Helicopters, you can ask a fair bit more. Taking a cue from those cutting-edge automotive concept cars, the FCX-100 is a far cry from the clunky-looking rotor pods we’re used to. Beautifully sleek and streamlined, it’s a masterclass in aerial design, the glass-clad helicopter equivalent of the Shard.

Bell Concept Helicopter

A great deal of the change comes from Bell thinking far enough outside the box to leave it behind entirely. The FCX-100 just doesn’t look like their previous aircraft. For one it doesn’t have a tail rotor; for another, the fully-configurable interior is futuristic enough to put Ghost in the Shell to shame.

It’s not all about aesthetics of course; the concept is essentially a progress report from Bell’s R&D department. They wanted to showcase their work in an entirely new way so that each innovation stands out from the usual aircraft we’ve become accustomed to.

The engineers and designers working on FCX-100 were given free rein to make their concepts a reality. The result is a helicopter that brings to bear Bell’s extensive advancements in aviation technology: a fan-driven anti-torque system, hybridized propulsion, morphing main rotor blade tips and an augmented reality cockpit to name just a few.

Now, as any veteran pilot will tell you, the FCX-100 isn’t practical. It has its fair share of issues that mean we’re unlikely to ever see it in its current form actually taking flight on a substantial scale. But that’s not the point; like any good concept, it’s there to provoke conversation. It’s not a new release but a new way of looking at traditional helicopter design. At the very least we can expect to start seeing some truly captivating new designs from both Bell and the industry as a whole; that’s no bad thing at all.

www.bellhelicopter.com

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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