HYDRA: A Mission of Movement

HYDRA: A Mission of Movement

UPDATE: July, 26, 2018

The video below demonstrates HYDRA's Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) and automated flight capabilities.


• HYDRA is a distributed propulsion tail sitter ring-wing configuration aircraft. This means its structure is a lifting surface so that it may convert onto its edge and sustain wing-borne flight at reduced power consumption, while increasing its speed and range over a traditional multi-rotor aircraft.

• All aspects of flight control in both hover and airplane mode are handled by distributed thrust.

• The aircraft is capable of automated maneuvers such as takeoff, conversion into wing borne flight, conversion into hover mode, and landing.

• The video also displays the flight regime in airplane mode where the stabilization is entirely handled by the flight control computer.

• The automated landing at the end of the video is to display HYDRA's advantage of landing in windy conditions utilizing its low cross section and wide stance with no pilot input required.

Ever since the conception of Bell Helicopter, our mission has revolved around movement. Creating new and efficient ways to move people and cargo from one place to another. From vertical lift to jet packs, our drive to discover new forms of movement has not ceased. To further this exploration, Bell Helicopter developed a Hybrid Drive Train Research Aircraft (HYDRA) to research advanced distributed propulsion systems. Bell’s HYDRA project also probes the capabilities of new hybrid propulsion technologies, including electric and fluid dynamic power systems.


Unlike our production aircraft, HYDRA is not built for a specific mission. Instead, it has been an important tool for testing distributed propulsion technology and its application to other innovations, including air taxi. HYDRA has already proved to be a great teacher. Our team has discovered the unexpected stability of a circular wing in flight and certain control laws that allow aircraft stability in VTOL mode, airplane mode, during transition and even in the event of a system failure.


Current drones and distributed propulsion aircraft are not yet ready for human passengers, and this restricts vertical lift applications using this technology to small unmanned aircraft and toys. HYDRA will allow our engineers to learn more about this type of transportation and ultimately enable them to build passenger and large unmanned aircraft. Next time you think about climbing in your air taxi and skipping the deadlocked traffic, know that HYDRA is the machine that will help make this daily commuter fantasy a reality.

About Bell

Thinking above and beyond is what we do. For more than 85 years, we’ve been reimagining the experience of flight – and where it can take us.

We are pioneers. We were the first to break the sound barrier and to certify a commercial helicopter. We were a part of NASA’s first lunar mission and brought advanced tiltrotor systems to market. Today, we’re defining the future of advanced air mobility.

Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas – as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Textron Inc., – we have strategic locations around the globe. And with nearly one quarter of our workforce having served, helping our military achieve their missions is a passion of ours.

Above all, our breakthrough innovations deliver exceptional experiences to our customers. Efficiently. Reliably. And always, with safety at the forefront.

About Textron

Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Pipistrel, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, and Textron Systems. For more information, visit: www.textron.com.

Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking statements which may project revenues or describe strategies, goals, outlook or other non-historical matters; these statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, changes in aircraft delivery schedules or cancellations or deferrals of orders; our ability to keep pace with our competitors in the introduction of new products and upgrades with features and technologies desired by our customers; changes in government regulations or policies on the export and import of our products; volatility in the global economy or changes in worldwide political conditions that adversely impact demand for our products; volatility in interest rates or foreign exchange rates; and risks related to our international business, including establishing and maintaining facilities in locations around the world and relying on joint venture partners, subcontractors, suppliers, representatives, consultants and other business partners in connection with international business, including in emerging market countries.

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