First FAA Certification for Testing Of A Vertical Lift Unmanned
Bell Helicopter announced Monday its Eagle Eye TR918 Unmanned
Aircraft System, or UAS, has received its certificate of
airworthiness for experimental flight testing from the Federal
Aviation Administration. Bell tells Aero-News this represents the
first time such a certificate has been issued to a vertical-lift
UAV-type aircraft by the FAA.
"This is a tremendous accomplishment that many people from both
Bell Helicopter and the FAA have been working very hard to
achieve," explained Kevin Connell, Vice President of Bell
Helicopter's XworX facility. "Not only are we celebrating the
certification of the Eagle Eye TR 918 (above and right), but we are
also celebrating the fact that with this first ever certificate of
airworthiness for experimental testing of a vertical lift unmanned
The successful experimental flight certification of Bell's Eagle
Eye TR918 UAS is the culmination of nearly a year of preparations,
coordination and cooperation between Bell Helicopter and the
Flight testing will be conducted at a recently opened Bell
'XWorX' facility in west Texas.
"This is another example of Bell Helicopter's leadership in
vertical lift technology," said Bell Helicopter Chief Executive
Officer, Mike Redenbaugh.
certification process, an eight member team made of representatives
from FAA headquarters in Washington D.C. and the FAA Southwest
Region, scrutinized every aspect of the Eagle Eye program from
hardware and software to operational procedures and quality
"With this successful certification, we can now demonstrate to
the world the remarkable capability of a vertical lift, tiltrotor
UAS like the Eagle Eye TR918," said Bob Ellithorpe, Bell
Helicopter's Director of Unmanned Systems. "This system will
provide military and commercial operators with multiple
capabilities ranging from homeland security to pipeline patrol.
Ultimately, Bell's objective is to provide a family of unmanned
systems that give our customers the means to more effectively
accomplish their missions."
"This is a great example of Bell Helicopter continuing to
advance the overall strategy of being in both military and
commercial business, in both tilt rotors and helicopters and in
both manned and unmanned aircraft," Redenbaugh said.