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It’s a bird, it’s a plane: Bell Flight to take off in 2020

Bell Flight’s scale model of their air taxi. ( Photo: Linda Baker / FreightWaves )

Bell Flight, the company formerly known as Bell Helicopter, teamed up with Uber back in 2017 when the ride sharing company was touting its network of high flying taxis to reduce traffic congestion.  

That dream is still alive. Bell, a subsidiary of Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT),  announced plans to release an air taxi in the form of a 6,000 pound plane that can seat five people and has a weight capacity of  600 pounds. The Bell Nexus, as it is called, has 150 mile range and can reach speeds of 150 miles per hour.

Bell has yet to build a prototype, but showed off a scale model at CES.

“As space at the ground level becomes limited, we must solve transportation challenges in the vertical dimension — and that’s where Bell’s on-demand mobility vision takes hold,” Bell CEO Mitch Snyder said in a statement.  “The industry has anticipated the reveal of our air taxi for some time, so Bell is very proud of this moment. We believe the design, taken with our strategic approach to build this infrastructure, will lead to the successful deployment of the Bell Nexus to the world.”

The flying car, or plane, if you will, features a hybrid propulsion system that  uses six tilting fans to take off and land, with the wings supplementing the lift.

During a presentation at CES2019, Bell executives said the flying car  is so quiet that people can apparently stand right below at a height of 1000 feet and not hear a thing.

The goal is to have the service available by 2020,  the executives said.

Cessna, Beechcraft and other aircraft companies are part of the Textron family. Bell is one of a handful of manufacturers working with Uber to make small planes that would ferry people from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to [email protected]