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Formerly known as Bell Helicopter, this OEM changed its


name


to Bell in February


2018 to put its focus on “technology that enhances safety and productivity, while creating amazing vertical lift experiences beyond helicopters,” said Bell President and CEO Mitch Snyder.


Still, for many Rotorcraft Pro readers, Bell is all about helicopters. The company did not disappoint in 2018. For instance, the twin-engine Bell 525 Relentless helicopter logged over 1,000 flight hours in three flying 525 prototypes (a fourth is undergoing ground tests), as the company aims for certification in 2019.


Meanwhile, more than 505 Bell Jet Ranger X (light single- engine) helicopters have been delivered worldwide, with this rotorcraft type having already clocked more than 10,000 flight hours. Bell also introduced several kit offerings including high-skid gear, HEMS interiors, and certified floats.


In the same time period, the Bell 407GXi (single-engine) received EASA and FAA validation. An upgraded version of the 412EPX (twin-engine)


built in collaboration with Subaru was unveiled at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow. Known as the Subaru Bell 412EPX, this version offers more power than earlier 412s, plus a modern glass cockpit.


Looking ahead, Bell is exploring electric and hybrid- electric VTOL technologies as it works on an air taxi aimed at urban markets. “We believe the urban air taxi market for highly automated electric and hybrid vertical lift aircraft is viable,” said Scott Drennan, vice president of innovation at Bell. He added that the air taxi concept in itself is not new: “What is new is the efficiency, affordability, and regulations required to make air transport available to the masses.”


A mock-up of a possible Bell Air Taxi cabin was shown at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. Now Bell is moving ahead to develop an actual prototype. “Safran will provide the hybrid propulsion systems, and Garmin will integrate the avionics and the vehicle management computer (VMC) systems,” Drennan said. “Moog will provide the Flight Control Actuation System (FCAS), EPS will provide the energy storage systems, and Thales will lead the flight controls system.”


OEM Outlook The 2019 Rotorcraft Pro


58


Jan/Feb 2019


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