Bell Helicopter announced last month that its new 429 light twin has been approved for precise wide area augmentation system (Waas) glidepath operations. The capability will allow the 429 to be flown to point-in-space approaches when the cloud ceiling is as low as 250 feet agl and to conduct steep (9 degrees) localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at a minimum velocity for instrument approaches (Vmini) of 45 knots.
“The 429 is the only helicopter in its class capable of performing fully coupled four-axis autopilot LPV approaches,” said Larry Roberts, Bell senior vice president for commercial business. “This is a significant development and capability.” Roberts said Waas-enabled EMS 429s would be able to fly more missions “and save more lives.”
The Bell-led team that worked on the project included the FAA Global Satellite Systems Program Office, FAA Flight Standards Organization, Hickok and Associates, Air Methods and Mercy Medical Center’s Mercy One in Des Moines, Iowa.
Earlier this year, Dan Keough, Mercy One’s director of emergency transport services, told AIN that enabling Waas approaches could help it fly as many as 50 more flights annually. The five point-in-space approaches being developed are at four area hospitals and a rendezvous scene point in rural Stuart, Iowa, 45 miles southwest of Des Moines. –