Just call the company “Bell” from now on.
Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter is dropping the word “helicopter” from its name, effective Thursday, reflecting the company’s many advances in technology.
“When you look at where do we want to be, you have to drop the helicopter name”, said Mitch Snyder, Bell’s President and CEO. “We’re going to be Bell. We are a technology company redefining flight.”
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With the new name comes a new logo. Bell unveiled the logo, a red shield with a white dragonfly, to employees at headquarters Thursday.
“The shield to me represents safety, quality, reliability, it makes you feel good when you see a shield,” said Snyder. “The dragonfly has mastered flight. A dragonfly can take off and land wherever it wants. It can fly in any direction, forward, backward, sideways. It can hover at will. That is the perfect symbol to go onto our shield to say we are going to master flight.”
Snyder added that the company's products will continue to fly in the vertical dimension, but that it's the company's technology that brings them there.
Last month, Bell was at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, displaying a full scale design of the on-demand Urban Air Taxi, a joint project with the ride-sharing service Uber, called Uber Elevate.
“Someday you’re going to look out the window and see them just zipping around the sky,” said Snyder. “What I like to say is not, there goes an air taxi, but there goes a Bell.”
The Bell Air Taxi will feature an interior like a luxury car, with enough room for five or six passengers - and possibly someone else.
"We do think actually, in the very beginning, there will be a pilot or a mission operator or safety officer with you on board", says Bell's Director or Innovation, Scott Dreennan.
Bell expects to begin test flights in the early 2020's.
For now, the Bell Air Taxi flies only in virtual reality, but Uber Elevate has already identified two possible "vertiports" where the air taxis will take off and land - one at Frisco Station in Collin County, and the other at DFW International Airport.
Working with Hillwood Properties, Uber Elevate envisions about a dozen vertiports throughout North Texas.
The full scale design of the Bell Air Taxi will be on display in Austin during South by Southwest, where people can try the virtual reality googles.
Some of the advanced technology that will allow the air taxi to fly is also found on what’s called the Autonomous Pod Transport, Bell’s solution to quickly move products and supplies from one place to the other.
“If you’re in combat somewhere and need a resupply of ammunition or other things, we can fly things into harm’s way with an unmanned aircraft rather than risking lives to get it into them,” said Snyder.
Bell's latest achievement, a next generation tilt-rotor aircraft being built for the U.S. Army, called the V-280 Valor, took flight for the first time a few weeks ago.
Over the years, the companhas delivered more than 35,000 aircraft to customers around the world.