Bell Autonomous Pod Transport Completes Beyond Visual Line of Sight Flight

In the race to provide viable, aerial solutions to move goods and information, Bell’s Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) surpassed a significant step in this journey: beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight. Delivering goods and information to critical – sometimes inaccessible – locations calls for an aircraft that can fly autonomously, over long distances and land vertically. At the beginning of the year, Bell’s APT proved that it can handle this type of flight through its first BVLOS flight carrying 60lbs of payload at a testing site in Oklahoma.

This new development is made possible through Bell’s partnership with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO). In an agreement announced in late 2019, CNO and Bell announced that Bell had joined CNO’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (UASIPP) team where flights and tests will be conducted as part of the FAA UASIPP in preparation for future advanced UAS operations. CNO is one of nine active UASIPP sites selected by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao in May 2018. Both organizations share an interest in the growth of technology to serve communities, which is why CNO has supported Bell APT flight testing on their test site location in rural, southeastern Oklahoma.

Bell and CNO signed an additional agreement in early 2020 to establish a relationship which will provide Bell a flight test location for Bell’s unmanned vehicles. CNO became the obvious choice for flight test activity for Bell because of its proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth and their commitment to building facilities that support requirements necessary for these operations. In return, Bell is providing guidance to CNO on the creation of their Emerging Aviation Technology Test Center in regard to safety and efficient flight operations.

Bell is eager to expand APT’s BVLOS flights to eventually support medical supply drops, basic supply chain operations and even kiosk deliveries. Our strong partnerships and continued innovation bring us closer to achieving this future goal, one flight at a time.   

About Bell

Thinking above and beyond is what we do. For more than 80 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 on-demand 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, Hawker, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, Textron Systems, and TRU Simulation + Training. 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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