Heli-Expo 2011: Bell Offers Glass and Guns on New 407s
Bell Helicopter unveiled two new versions of its 407 single here at Heli-Expo yesterday. The 407GX features a Garmin G1000H glass cockpit, while the 407AH is a $5 million commercially available armed helicopter developed primarily for the export market. It will be available to qualified customers directly from Bell, as opposed to via contracts from the U.S. Defense or State Department.
The GX’s G1000H system can be configured to include HTaws, TCAS, synthetic vision and electronic maps, ADS-B, high-speed data bus, global worldwide weather and connectivity and displays all electrical, engine and engine power parameters, all on a pair of 10.4 inch LCD displays. Optional kits include the Garmin GDL 69AH XM weather and radio, Garmin GDL 59H datalink and flight parameter recorder, Garmin GSR 56H Iridium voice/data transceiver; Garmin GTS 800 traffic advisory system (ADS-B in), ELT and radar altimeter.
“It is the most advanced flight deck bar none in any Part 27 helicopter out there today,” said Garmin vice president Gary Kelley. It is the first certification of the G1000H in a helicopter. “It is highly flexible and scalable. This system can rest the AHRS in flight in dynamic mode. It can be turning or climbing and the AHRS can be reset.” Kelley called the G1000H’s digital audio system “a real workload reducer” that includes automatic speech recognition and 3D audio. He said the system was more rugged than the G1000 developed for fixed-wing aircraft to withstand the rigors of helicopter operation.
A key feature enabled by the G1000H system will be the ability to monitor system parameters. “Our customers will be able to select and program certain vehicle parameters, initially as part of a FOQA [flight operational quality assurance] program,” Roberts explained.
The data is downloaded to a micro-SD card, from which it can easily be moved to a laptop computer. The FOQA program can include the monitoring of exceedances per the flight manual, and operators will be able to choose what they want to download such as altitude, direction, speed and navigation parameters. Roberts said the system also is designed for future growth including the monitoring of dynamic components such as the main gearbox, drive shaft, bearings and engine. “We still don’t have the capability to install thresholds to monitor current systems but we do have the capability to do that in the future,” he said. The GX’s big screens can also display law enforcement functions such as forward-looking infrared (FLIR) display and camera images. An onboard camera focused aft can be activated by a switch on the collective to provide pilots with an image to clear the tail rotor. “The system is so flexible that you can display everything you need for the pilot [to fly] on the right screen and display anything else on the left screen,” Roberts said. He said the screens also improve interior visibility.
Roberts said the GX went from conception to certification in just 19 months.
Bell (Booth No. 237) anticipates that the 407’s G1000H system will be certified and available to customers in the third quarter of this year. The price of the 407GX will be $2.795 million, an increase of $150,000 over the current 407. A 407GX is at the static display, and the G1000H can also be seen in a simulator here at the show and in a demonstration helicopter. The commercial armed 407AH comes equipped with a “baseline” law enforcement package that can be customized for multiple weapon configurations and is designed to perform missions including search and rescue, enforcement and pursuit. Roberts said the helicopter “will meet the needs of a variety of parapublic agencies at a cost that is far less than that of similarly equipped military aircraft, but with increased lethality.” The initial weapons system on the helicopter includes a Dillon 7.62mm M134T minigun and the M260 2.75-inch seven-shot rocket-launching system. Customization is available through Bell’s Piney Flats, Tenn. facility. Available options include chaff/flare controller for countermeasures, sliding rear doors, cargo hook and crew seat armor. The AH comes standard with the Garmin G500H glass cockpit system, the AAI bulged skylights kit, AAI inlet-barrier filter with access door, AAI wire-strike protection system and Meeker quick release pins for the crew doors.
Roberts said the AH was designed to be rapidly reconfigurable and that customers could take the guns off or put them back on. “This is a non-integrated system,” he stressed. “It does not fire directed munitions. By doing it this way it is really a commercially armed aircraft and we can offer it outside the scope of the military process. All the necessary licenses have been applied for or acquired.” Roberts said a base AH would be available for “under $5 million” and that the helicopter was directed “primarily at the international market.” He said Bell developed it at the request of customers. “For a very long time the market has been asking Bell, because of its history with the OH-58 and the 407, to produce a commercial helicopter that is qualified with weapons.”
The Bell 407 was certified in 1996 and is powered by a single Rolls-Royce 250-C47 turboshaft engine. Last year Bell delivered the 1,000th 407.