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Bell Helicopter development efforts will continue on three key rotorcraft in 2017: the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X (light single), the Bell 525 Relentless (super-medium twin), and the Bell V-280 Valor (military tiltrotor).


The Bell 505 is aimed at the corporate and parapublic markets. It offers a highly configurable cabin with room for five occupants, 125 knots maximum cruising speed, and a state-of-the-art Garmin G1000 glass avionics suite.


In anticipation of a yet to be announced delivery date, the company has moved Bell 505 production to its plant in Mirabel, Quebec, where the three Bell 505 prototypes were assembled and flight-tested. The Mirabel production line “is up and running,” said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter. “We are nearing certification for the 505,” he noted. In fact, Bell received Transport Canada certification for the 505 in late December 2016.


Regarding the Bell 525, it is designed for the corporate/VIP, HEMS, and parapublic


52 Jan/Feb 2017


markets. It has space for up to 20 people, 162 knots maximum cruise speed with a range of 570 nautical miles, and an ARC Horizon flight deck. However, its development has not been without tragedy. According to a preliminary NTSB report:


“On July 6, 2016, about 1148 central daylight time, an experimental Bell 525 helicopter, N525TA, broke up inflight and impacted terrain near Italy, Texas. The two pilots onboard were fatally injured and the


helicopter was destroyed. The


flight originated from Arlington, Texas, as a developmental flight test and was conducted


under the provisions of 14


Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.”


[Note: Rotorcraft Pro’s thoughts and prayers go out to the two test pilots and their families. The selfless bravery such pilots consistently display in advancing rotorcraft flight benefits us all.]


Bell Helicopter told Rotorcraft Pro that flight testing has been suspended for the 525, but “all non-flight related certification and program activities are continuing, such as sustainment planning, engagement


with certification authorities, component testing, major structural and dynamics test, upgrades to our systems integration lab, and production improvements.”


At this time, Bell Helicopter does not have an estimate as to when flight testing might resume, nor does it yet know the length of delay in certification or first deliveries. “We remain committed to the 525 program and are taking this process very seriously, which will result in a safe, reliable, and high performance helicopter when it comes to market,” the company stated.


Regarding the Bell V-280, the company’s third-generation tiltrotor aircraft is scheduled to make its first flight sometime in 2017. With the ability to take off like a helicopter and fly like a twin-engine propellor airplane, the V-280 cruises at 280 knots and has a range of 500-800 nautical miles, depending on configuration and load. It can carry four crew members, and up to 14 passengers.


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