HYDRA: A Mission of Movement

Our new propulsion technology learning tool could save you from morning traffic...

03 January 2018

HYDRA: A Mission of Movement

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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About Textron Inc.

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