Through the beginning of March, Bell had delivered 21 of its new $5.51 million 429 light twins. Bell senior vice president Larry Roberts said the company anticipates that 81 of the helicopters will be delivered by the end of 2011 and he expects several new orders for the helicopter to be announced at Heli-Expo. Roberts said the company has made “very good progress” on developing a wheeled 429 variant and expects that work to be completed late this year or early next.
Bell’s campaign to shave weight from the 429 is continuing. To date those efforts have removed about 80 pounds from the helicopter. “We want more out of it,” Roberts said. Our goal is to get to 3,000 pounds of useful load. There are an awful lot of activities going on behind the scenes to get this done.”
The 429 currently has a maximum useful load of 2,755 pounds (single-pilot IFR) and is certified to a 7,000-pound maximum gross weight (internal). Roberts said the helicopter had room for growth beyond that number. “The 7,000-pound limit is not a performance limit, it is a certification limit.”