Farnborough Air Show

Bell Highlights New Rotorcraft Tech at Farnborough Airshow

 - July 17, 2014, 12:15 AM
Bell’s developmental, fly-by-wire 525 Relentless model is represented on the Bell display in mockup form. Configured in search-and-rescue mode, the mockup also features Bell’s four-screen Arc Horizon flight deck (inset), based on the Garmin G5000H architecture with touchscreen control.

Textron’s Bell Helicopter brought four helicopters to its Farnborough Airshow display (Exhibit Area L2), including a mockup of the Bell 525 Relentless outfitted in search-and-rescue configuration and a mockup of the 505 Jet Ranger X, which just concluded a three-month European tour.

A 407GX is also on the Bell static display, as is a 429 in emergency-medical service configuration. The 429 also just finished a three-month demonstration tour. During FIA14, a corporate-configured Bell 429 is flying demonstration flights.

“Europe is our second-largest helicopter market,” said Bell president and CEO John Garrison, “and it will still be [the second-largest] in 20 years.” Although Bell has had helicopters flying in Europe for more than 50 years, he added, “We don’t enjoy the same level of market participation [as North America].”

“In the past few years, we have had great success in Europe and see additional opportunities for further growth,” said Danny Maldonado, Bell executive v-p of commercial sales and marketing. “We have invested in developing our local facilities and aftermarket capabilities to better serve our European customers, and Farnborough gives us an opportunity to connect our team with these customers and learn more about their future needs.”

Bell’s strategy is focused around products, people and facilities, Garrison explained. And one of the product-related announcements at Farnborough is a new kit for an integrated autopilot for the Garmin G1000H-equipped 407GX. The two-axis autopilot system is available as an option on new 407GXs and as a retrofit on existing models equipped with the G1000H suite.

Certified under a supplemental type certificate for VFR operations by the FAA and Transport Canada, the Garmin autopilot offers cyclic force trim and a stability and command augmentation system that is available at all speeds, with altitude and heading preselects, according to Bell. A go-around mode is available, with one-switch activation, which provides automatic attitude leveling and transition to climb. During heavy turbulence or in extreme attitudes, the autopilot will automatically disconnect, and it is also night-vision-system-compatible. Cost of the autopilot is “slightly more than $100,000,” and it is said to be less expensive than the currently approved 407GX HeliSAS autopilot offered by Cobham. The integrated autopilot was designed by Bell and was derived from the 429’s digital automatic flight control system.

Sales of the 407GX have grown three timestripled in Europe, and Bell’s commercial sales have grown 37 percent in Europe since 2012, according to Garrison. Bell 429 sales have grown rapidly,increased from two operating in Europe two years ago to more than 40 now.

 

New Bells

TheLetters of intent for the new light 505 has seen coverletters of intent for more than 200 helicopters, of which 40 are European orders. The 505 is Bell’s first helicopter powered by a Turbomeca engine, the Arrius 2R controlled by a dual-channel Fadec. Avionics are Garmin’s G1000H. A high-inertia rotor system “delivers superior autorotation capabilities,” according to Bell.

The new 525 is the first commercial helicopter with fly-by-wire flight controls. Also equipped with Garmin avionics, the 525 features Bell’s four-display Arc Horizon flight deck, which uses the G5000H system with touchscreen controls. Bell’s lift- assist tail boom design promises to improve the 525’s hover performance. “The 525 enables Bell to break into the offshore market in Europe,” Garrison said.

Recent scale-model water-tank testing tests of scale-model 525s has shownindicated that the 525 will have no problem meeting sea state 6 standards for emergency water landings, and that there are no hurdles that should prevent the 525 from meeting the new uneven waveform requirements. The 525 cabin is designed so that no occupant is more than one passenger away from an emergency exit. “Our design was generated by customer [requirements],” said Garrison.

“In the past few years, we have had great success in Europe and see additional opportunities for further growth,” said Danny Maldonado, Bell executive v-p of commercial sales and marketing. “We have invested in developing our local facilities and aftermarket capabilities to better serve our European customers, and Farnborough gives us an opportunity to connect our team with these customers and learn more about their future needs.”