Tiltrotor Aircraft for SAR May Be Closer Than You Think


Photo: Bell V-280 concept

We have talked about “Future Vertical Lift” (FVL) before. It’s a program to replace several helicopters, including the H-60, with advanced aircraft with much greater speed and range.

Defense News reports that while V-280 demonstrator is expected to fly in 2017, the Army, which has the lead, doesn’t expect to fund production until in the late 2020s with the aircraft coming on line in the 2030s. But the Bell/Lockheed team that is producing the V-280 Valor, believes that there is Air Force and Navy interest that could see initial operational capability by 2025.

Meanwhile, Aero News Network reports the UAE has decided to purchase three AW609 tiltrotors, for Search and Rescue, with an option for three more. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2019. These aircraft will have twice the speed and twice the range of the helicopters they replace (275 knot maximum speed and 750 nm range).


Photo: AW609 prototype

I can’t help but think these would be awfully useful in the Arctic, and wouldn’t it be nice, if when we launch on a long range recovery mission, we could have two tilt-rotors, instead of a helicopter and a fixed wing.

27 thoughts on “Tiltrotor Aircraft for SAR May Be Closer Than You Think

    • Specifically downwash issues while hoisting personnel.

      Tiltrotors have higher disk loads compared to helicopters which results in more downwash. The tiltrotor’s higher enroute speed is valuable for SAR, doubly so for CSAR, but it has to make the recovery to do any good. V-22’s have been used for personnel recovery, but to the best of my knowledge they’ve landed to conduct the recovery instead of hoisting.

      Stats for reference if you choose to believe Wikipedia:
      – V-22 disk loading is 20.9lbs/sqft @ 47,500lbs loaded weight
      – UH-60 disk loading is 9.7lbs/sqft @ 22,000lbs loaded weight
      They both have about the same disk area, but the V-22 is a lot heavier.

  1. I honestly think that the tilt rotor tech, while cool, is just overly complicated. I do however like the direction Sikorsky is going with the S-97 Raider. I think that the Raider and the larger sized version of this plane could/should be the future replacements for both the Dolphin and the Jayhawk.


  2. Pingback: H-60 Replacement Tilt-rotor Prototype | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

      • Agreed! I do think the Sikorsky Boeing compound rotor system is better for shipboard use. But the Bell V-280 Valor would be a good shore base option.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s