Bell 429 Light Twin Nears Certification
Bell Helicopter anticipates receiving Transport Canada type certification for the 429 twin-turbine light helicopter by the end of June, followed swiftly by FAA validation and, a few weeks farther out, EASA approval. Company officials told AIN that all component testing and flight testing is complete, with just software approval remaining for Canadian certification. The flight-test program has accumulated more than 1,800 hours using two prototypes and three pre-production aircraft. When it announced the 429 in February 2005, Bell estimated TC and FAA certification in the first quarter of 2007 and first deliveries later that year. The delayed certification of the 429 “has been a talking point for the last year or so,” said Neil Marshall, Bell Helicopter program director for the Model 429 and modular affordable product line (MAPL). “We wanted to hit the mark with this aircraft–to underpromise and overdeliver–and I think the only area we missed was the schedule.” Bell currently holds letters of intent for 301 of the multi-mission rotorcraft, which the company will begin converting to purchase agreements as soon as it receives the type certificate.