HAI Convention News

Eagle 407 soars with Honeywell engine

 - February 20, 2010, 1:35 PM

Alberta, Canada-based Eagle Copters has an impressive engine modification to show Bell 407 pilots, operators and owners at Heli-Expo 2010. Dubbed the “Eagle 407 HP,” the popular, single-turbine helicopter sports a 1,021-shp Honeywell HTS900 engine. Though still to be flight tested and certified, the engine upgrade has the promise of providing the popular model with the power it needs for improved operations at higher altitudes.

Honeywell developed the HTS900 for the Bell 417 program, which when canceled in 2007 also halted the Army ARH program. “We ended up without a home for this fantastic engine with the latest technology,” said Doug Kult, Honeywell sales director for commercial helicopters. Now Bell Helicopter engineers are working with Eagle Copters to develop the first HTS900-powered 407. The modified Eagle helicopter is on display at the Eagle Copters booth (No. 1049).

The HTS900 replaces the 407’s original Rolls-Royce 250-C47B turboshaft engine, which is rated at 813 shp for takeoff. “It’s essentially a sea-level machine,” said Kult. “It just doesn’t have the power at altitude to keep up with [Eurocopter] AS350B3s.”

According to Kult, there are more than 900 Bell 407s flying today and about 48 percent of them are operated above 4,000 feet, where the 407’s power begins to drop off. These 407s could benefit from the greater power available from the HTS900, which helps the 407 gain 40-percent more payload at altitude, he said. “We’re going to fill that Bell transmission with power to 14,000 feet.” The HTS900 achieves a lower power decrease with altitude due to the design of the engine’s multi-stage, twin centrifugal compressor. The engine received FAA certification in December 2008.

Bell completed extensive flight testing on the 417 and information from those tests is available to the Eagle Copters/Honeywell team, including installation design, the approved test plan and intellectual property. That will help the Eagle 407 receive FAA supplemental type certification fairly quickly, now projected to be early to mid-2011, according to Kult. Flight testing of the Eagle 407 is set to commence after Heli-Expo.

Eagle Copters has not yet set a price for the HTS900 upgrade to the Bell 407, but it will be competitive, Kult said. Having Bell behind the upgrade program makes a huge difference, he added. “It’s difficult to retrofit with a more powerful engine without the OEM on board. This is really going to make it happen now.”
Kult also revealed that Honeywell has added a new service center for the HTS900, Intermountain Turbine Services in Linden, Utah.

Honeywell’s other key helicopter engine program, the LTS101, is seeing new activity in the upgrade market. Honeywell has sold 250 LTS101 upgrades for the AS350B2 and now is targeting the BK117 for an LTS101 improvement program. In a partnership with Airwork New Zealand, Honeywell is offering to convert the LTS101-750 in the BK117-B to the LTS101-850. This, said Kult, brings the B model BK117 to the equivalent performance of the Turbomeca-powered BK117-C1, and flight testing has shown better performance than the C1. The -850 offers 15-percent more takeoff power and an 18-percent power boost at altitude.

The LTS101-850 was certified a year ago, and flight testing of the -850 upgrade is complete. Airwork has submitted all certification paperwork to New Zealand regulators, who will certify the modification first, followed by FAA approval under the two countries’ bilateral agreement. Six customers in New Zealand are ready to perform the upgrade to their BK117s, Kult said.

The LTS101-850 conversion is a drop-in replacement, and Honeywell can do the upgrade during engine overhaul or hot-section inspection events. Airwork has not yet released a price for the -850 conversion. Airwork and Honeywell will select a U.S. or Canadian partner to perform the -850 BK117 upgrade in North America.