Bell Helicopter (Chalet A48) is aiming for the first flights of the Bell 525 Relentless and Bell SLS late next year, and the two engineering teams working on the new helicopters are engaged in a friendly race, CEO John Garrison said here on Monday.
On the Bell 525 medium twin, design engineers have begun using the iron bird test rig. “Flight control computers, avionics and actuators, including those of the main and tail rotors, are connected and run flight profiles,” Garrison explained. Meanwhile, the assembly of the first aircraft has started. After probably 18 months of flight testing, certification is pegged for mid-2016. Bell will be taking orders–expected to come mainly from offshore operators–from late this year or early next year.
For the SLS (short light single), Garrison promised a new name by the Heli-Expo show in February 2014. The helicopter is Bell’s bid to re-enter the light single-engine market with a new product. A five-seater, the SLS will be powered by a Turbomeca turboshaft, a first for a Bell aircraft.
Separately, Bell announced it will deliver the first upgraded Bell 412EPI by year-end. Abu Dhabi Aviation will be the first customer and will operate it for offshore oil-and-gas platform transport services.