Bell 429 Nears Certification, Gets Speed Boost
The new Bell 429 light twin will have a faster top cruise speed than the previously published 142 knots, program director Neil Marshall told AIN. He declined to specify just how much faster the 429 will be, saying only that the higher speed “would be pleasing” to customers. Despite a recent executive shake-up at Bell Helicopter, company executives insist that the new $4.865 million (2007 dollars) Bell 429 will receive certification early next year, with customer deliveries to begin shortly thereafter. According to Marshall, the program is “on track” and “most of the flight testing will be finished by December,” though he did add that items remaining on the to-do list included some function and reliability testing, ground testing, software completion and supplier parts qualification. He also said the first 14 Bell 429s are already on the production line. The order book for the new helicopter model has passed 350 and the company plans to ramp up production gradually over the next three to four years.