Bell kept a secret in Canada for almost nine months. Since May 2019, the manufacturer has been testing a new concept of electric tail rotor on a 429 model. Named EDAT (Electrically Distributed Anti-Torque), the technology consists of four small rotors driven by turbo-electric propulsion and replacing the anti-rotor conventional torque.
The experimental aircraft has already accumulated 25 flight hours in Mirabel, Canada, with promising results. According to Bell, the EDAT system provides a reduction in the helicopter’s operating and maintenance costs due to having fewer mechanical components. The technology also contributes to reducing carbon emissions as well as being quieter and more efficient.
The American company also says that the electric tail rotors can be controlled with greater precision and agility than a conventional anti-torque system driven by a turbine shaft. Another advantage of the system pointed out by the manufacturer is the reduction of the total weight of the aircraft.
EDAT rotors are controlled by pedals, as in traditional helicopters, but the connection of the controls and the motors is totally electric (fly-by-wire). In addition to the anti-torque system and control mechanisms, the demonstrator aircraft remains unchanged, using a conventional main rotor, engine and original structure.
One of the advantages of the system is that it can work with only one of the rotors, in addition to being safer on the ground since it is deactivated as soon as the aircraft lands. Bell, however, does not reveal whether the EDAT will equip any production helicopter, but sees the proposal as a viable solution for the rotary wing market, which should undergo a revolution with the arrival of flying taxis.