Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Bell Announce Collaboration to Test the Bell Nexus and Other Larger Vehicle Platforms

Bell Textron Agreement

Advanced Technology Initiatives News

DURANT, Okla. — The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) and Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company (Bell) established an agreement for Bell to begin testing some of Bell’s mobility systems, like the Bell Autonomous Pod Transport and the Bell Nexus on the CNO test site location in rural southeastern Oklahoma.

CNO, Bell and their partners will work with the FAA, NASA, and other federal agencies to enhance emerging aviation technologies and operations to help the United States retain a global leadership position in aviation technology.

“The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is elated to collaborate with Bell as we continue to foster an environment for innovation and collaboration,” states James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “Bell is a well-established industry leader, and this relationship allows us to explore new possibilities and applications in this industry.”

“The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma continues to work towards being a recognized industry influencer and expanding our involvement in emerging aviation technologies, and we appreciate and value our strong working relationship with Bell,” states Dr. Robert Huck, Director of Test Site Operations for Choctaw Nation’s Division of Strategic Development.

“CNO became the obvious choice for flight test activity for Bell because of its proximity to Dallas-Fort Worth and their commitment to building facilities that support requirements necessary for these operations,” stated Carey Cannon, chief engineer, Innovation. “In return, Bell is providing guidance to CNO on the creation of their Emerging Aviation Technology Test Center in regard to safety and efficient flight operations. We are excited to continue our collaboration with CNO around innovative solutions.”

In late 2019, CNO and Bell announced that Bell had joined CNO’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (UASIPP) team where flights and tests will be conducted as part of the FAA UASIPP in preparation for future planned beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and other more advanced UAS operations. CNO is one of nine active UASIPP sites selected by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao in May 2018.

About the UAS IPP Program

The Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) is an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration. The program will help the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) craft new enabling rules that allow more complex low-altitude UAS operations by:

  • Identifying ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration
  • Improving communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions
  • Addressing security and privacy risks
  • Accelerating the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations

The program is expected to foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the USDOT on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

About the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 212,000 tribal members and 12,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation's vision, "Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture," is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please visit


Contact Kristina Humenesky for any media relations needs at [email protected]