Nexus 4EX (concept design)
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Founded July 10, 1935, Bell (Originally Bell Aircraft Corporation, then Bell Helicopter Textron, then Bell Helicopter) is an American aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. The company over the years have not only made helicopters but also tilt-rotor aircraft, planes, jets, flying jeeps, missiles, hovercraft, spacecraft and more. In April 2022, Textron purchased Pipistrel (based on Slovenia) and formed a new division named Textron eAviation to design and manufacturer for conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) and electric VTOL (or eVTOL) aircraft for advanced air mobility (AAM). Textron eAviation took over Bell's Nexus program in 2022 with Textron eAviation's Nexus eVTOL passenger aircraft.
At the Consumer Electronics Show 2020, January 7-10, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, Bell revealed a full-scale mock-up of their second Nexus urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft, called the Nexus 4EX (4 ducted propellers, all electric, experimental).
Nexus 4EX eVTOL passenger concept design aircraft
The Nexus 4EX an eVTOL passenger concept design aircraft that is flown with one pilot and holds four passengers with luggage. The aircraft is planned to be flown autonomously in the future. The estimated cruise speed is 150 mph (241 km/h), has a range of 60 miles (97 km) and weighs 7,000 lbs (3,175 kg). The aircraft has four ducted propellers, one main high wing, fixed tricycle wheeled landing gear and one rear rudder. Bell is offering the flexibility for customers who request hybrid-electric power trains and the range for that aircraft would be greater than 150 miles (241 km).
The Nexus 4EX has the flexibility to be 100% powered by electricity using batteries as a power source or if the customer needs more range, the aircraft can be outfitted with a hybrid-electric power system. The first Bell Nexus model has been renamed as the Nexus 6HX (6 ducted propellers, hybrid-electric power train, experimental).
The top goals for the Bell Nexus program are safety, accessibility and sustainability.
- Safety: Safety is top concern for Bell, using distributed electric propulsion (DEP) and sensors which can determine when before parts will fail.
- Accessibility: Accessibility includes affordable advanced air mobility for the public and also allowing people of any age, weight or height to be able to fly in the aircraft.
- Sustainability: Meaning, the aircraft needs to have clean power and have low a noise signature.
Bell's advanced air mobility system
Bell has also announced they will be making urban air mobility software, called AerOS (an app to request air taxi flight service), a comprehensive fleet management system (including aircraft health and charge status) and will be in the business of running their own aerial ride sharing program. Bell has also stated they are still an Uber Elevate partner using their Nexus aircraft for Uber Air urban air mobility (UAM), now called advanced air mobility (AAM).
Bell's complete advanced air mobility system will use artificial intelligence to anticipate ridership demand allowing early positioning of aircraft to meet the air taxi need, to project maintenance servicing times and to efficiently fly the aircraft through air routes in urban areas, avoiding all obstacles, including other aircraft. Bell also plans to offer their on-demand air taxi app to any other company to operate their air taxi flight services.
Bell has concluded that manufacturing the Nexus, maintaining the aircraft and operating the Nexus eVTOL as one company will not only make financial sense but increase safety because all the data, experience and know-how will be under one roof. Bell plans on making three to four eVTOL prototypes before allowing production models fly with revenue paying passengers. Currently there are 70 Bell employees working on Nexus program.
For safety, the Nexus has distributed electric propulsion (DEP), having multiple motors and propellers distributed on the aircraft, that even if two ducted propellers fail, the aircraft can still land safely. Even though a total power failure is possible with any aircraft, Bell states with DEP and the redundancies in the Nexus 4EX flight systems, that a power failure would never happen.
Bell has a safety goal of 10-9 probability of failure, meaning that it has a statistical likelihood of only one failure every one billion hours of flight. This is the current safety standard used for commercial airliners.
Bell estimates they will have a working production model ready for paying passengers in the middle to late 2020s. In addition to the 4EX, Bell has also been engaged in the development of the Autonomous Pod Transport (APT) and Nexus 6HX.
Textron eAviation took over Bell's Nexus program in 2022 with Textron eAviation's Nexus eVTOL passenger aircraft.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL or hybrid-electric VTOL
- Pilot: Piloted until autonomous flying is available
- Capacity: 4 passengers with luggage and 1 pilot; when autonomous flight is available, will hold 5 passengers
- Cruise speed: 150 mph (241 km/h)
- Range: 60 miles (97 km)
- Hybrid-electric range: More than 150 miles (241 km)
- Weight of aircraft: 7,000 lbs (3,175 kg)
- Propellers: 4 ducted propellers
- Propeller diameter: 8 feet
- Propulsion: 4 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries or another source, depending upon customer requirements
- Dimensions: 40 X 40 feet (12.2 X 12.2 meters)
- Fuselage: Composite
- Window: Large wrap around window for spectacular views for the passengers
- Wing type: One rear high wing
- Tail: Vertical rudder, no horizontal flaps
- Landing gear: Tricycle landing gear
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft which provides safety through redundancy for its passengers. If 1 or 2 motors/propellers fail, the other working motors/propellers can safely land the aircraft. There are also other redundant flight systems on the Nexus 4EX.
- Bell Nexus web page
- Bell website
- Bell Facebook
- Bell Twitter
- Bell Instagram
- Bell LinkedIn
- Bell YouTube
- Article: Bell teams with Sumitomo and Japan Airlines on air mobility, Vertical Magazine, Feb. 11, 2019
- Paper: Bell Smart City Special Report, Bell, Jan. 2020
- Article: Bell unveils electric four-ducted Nexus 4EX at CES 2020, Vertical Magazine, Jan. 6, 2020
- Article: Bell Expands Air Taxi Play: AerOS, Digital Infrastructure and All-Electric Nexus, Avionics International, Jan. 6, 2020
- Video: Bell's Smart City Ecosystem, Bell, Jan. 7, 2020
- Video: Bell Nexus 4EX, Bell, Jan. 7, 2020
- Video: First Look at Bell’s Nexus 4EX Flying Taxi, Aviation Week MRO, Jan. 13, 2020
- Article: Bell Revamps Nexus as Four-rotor eVTOL, Aviation International News Online, Jan. 26, 2020
- Article: Transformative Vertical Flight 2020, Vertiflite, March/April 2020
- Article: Urban Air Mobility Steals the Show at CES 2020, Vertiflite, March/April 2020
- Article: Financing the Electric VTOL Revolution,Vertiflite, July/August 2020