U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification of the Bell 210, a single-turbine medium helicopter derived from military UH-1H Huey, is imminent and could happen this month, Bell CEO Mike Redenbaugh said yesterday at the Paris Air Show. “Our flight testing is completed, the FAA pilots have flown and now we’re just waiting for approval of the paperwork,” he said.
Bell Helicopter begins with a refurbished UH-1H fuselage and adds Bell 212 dynamic components (main rotor hub and blades, tail rotor and tail rotor support structure, transmission, rotating controls and tail boom) and a FAA-certified T-53-517B turboshaft engine. The result is a zero-time, commercial-off-the-shelf helicopter with a useful load of 5,000 pounds that Bell is marketing for civil, military and paramilitary uses. The U.S. helicopter builder also plans to offer the 210 as a candidate for the U.S. Army’s light utility helicopter (LUH) mission, for which a need for 342 helicopters has been stated.
Redenbaugh claimed the Bell 210 would make the ideal light utility helicopter. “First, the Army wants the LUH quickly and Bell has the production capacity to do this. Second, Bell has the global infrastructure of maintenance and logistical support to allow the Army to unburden itself of these tasks. And the 210 costs about $3 million and has direct operating costs of under $650 per hour. It is simply the lowest risk, lowest cost, shortest cycle alternative.” (When the 210 first flew in December last year, Bell was estimating the helicopter’s direct operating costs would be about $530.)