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Bell Nexus 4EX

BellNexus4x

Nexus 4EX
Bell
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
www.bellflight.com

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).

The Nexus 4EX has the flexibility to be 100% powered by electricity, an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, using batteries as a power source or if the customer needs more range, the aircraft 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 UAM 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.

The Nexus 4EX eVTOL aircraft holds 4 passengers with luggage, 1 pilot (until autonomous flight is available, then the aircraft will hold 5 passengers), cruise speed of 150 mph (241 km/h) with a range of 60 miles (97 km). The aircraft has four ducted propellers, one main wing, tricycle landing gear, one rear rudder and weighs 7,000 lbs (3,175 kg). 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).

Bell has also announced they will be making urban air mobility software, called AerOS (an app to request UAM 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 UAM.

Bell's complete UAM system will use artificial intelligence to anticipate ridership demand allowing early positioning of aircraft to meet those UAM needs, 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 UAM app to any other company to operate their UAM 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.

Specifications:

  • 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.

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