A test aircraft assigned to Bell Helicopter’s XworX research-and-development division crashed Tuesday morning 10 miles from Avalon, Texas. The two-pilot crew was uninjured.
Wreckage video taken by a Dallas television station shows that the twin-engine Bell 214ST was flying a main-rotor system that had five blades when pilots made an emergency landing in a field and then gently rolled onto its right side. The video does not show any remains of the tail rotor.
The 17,500-pound 214ST seats 16 to 18 and was originally designed with a two-bladed main-rotor system in the 1970s. Bell produced 96 of the aircraft, mainly for the offshore oil-and-gas industry.
Bell spokesman William Schroeder confirmed to AIN that the accident aircraft was being used for “new rotor technology development” but declined to say if it was for the new model 525 Relentless the company announced earlier this year. That twin-engine helicopter has a five-bladed main rotor system and seating for 16 to 18. First flight is scheduled for 2014.