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Eagle Eye Vertical Lift UAV Achieves First Flight Milestone

Bell Helicopter's TR918 Eagle Eye Unmanned Aircraft System
by Staff Writers
Fort Worth TX (SPX) Feb 09, 2006
Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron, has announced that its TR918 Eagle Eye Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) lifted off the ground for the first time today when it achieved the first flight milestone in this ground breaking, vertical-lift unmanned aircraft program.

At 8:54 a.m. (CST) the vehicle lifted vertically off the ground hovered for nine minutes, executed yaw and translation maneuvers and then landed safely on the ground. The vehicle flew a second flight within 30 minutes of the maiden flight's landing.

"This is a tremendous achievement for Bell Helicopter and our Team Eagle Eye partners," said Mike Redenbaugh, chief executive officer of Bell Helicopter.

"An immense amount of effort and dedication has gone into getting this aircraft in the air successfully."

According to Bob Ellithorpe, executive director of Bell's Unmanned Aircraft Systems, reaching this milestone was worth all the hard work and then some.

"Eagle Eye offers a capability never seen in the UAS industry," Ellithorpe explained.

"In the hands of our Coast Guard Homeland Defenders and all other potential users, Eagle Eye will successfully accomplish a number of critical missions including the most important mission, saving lives. Reaching this first flight milestone puts us one step closer to getting this unmatched capability in the field," Ellithorpe said.

First flight of the TR918 comes on the heels of recently receiving a certificate of airworthiness for experimental flight-testing from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The TR918 test program will continue advancing the tilt rotor nacelles to full airplane mode and increasing speed and payload capabilities.

"There is a lot of hard work ahead for the Eagle Eye development and testing team," Ellithorpe said. "But, today we are going to celebrate this first flight achievement."

Bell Helicopter is a leading producer of commercial and military helicopters and the pioneer of the revolutionary tilt rotor aircraft. Globally recognized for customer service, innovation and superior quality, Bell's global workforce serves customers flying Bell aircraft in over 120 countries.

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