The Bell 412EPI will be cleared for more procedures at elevated helipads early next year, according to Bell Helicopter, which is launching an upgrade program next month to incorporate improvements to increase operational flexibility for CAT A Part B procedures. The program will cover the use of circular and rectangular elevated heliports and should be finished in time for initial deliveries of the 412EPI in the first quarter of 2014, said the company.
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Companies proposing either tiltrotor or compound helicopter designs have won contracts from the U.S. Army for its joint multi-role technology demonstration (JMR TD) Phase 1 program to develop a next-generation vertical-lift aircraft.
Bell Helicopter will be unveiling its Model 429 light twin with wheeled landing gear on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas (Booth No. C9343). Compared to the $5.8 million standard skidded variant, the $6.17 million Bell 429WLG has a top speed of 152 knots, about five knots faster. The retractable gear and sponsons does add approximately 250 pounds, but range actually increases by 1 nm to 412 nm.
AgustaWestland continues to be on pace to certify its new AW189 medium-twin helicopter late this year, with the first non-test production model making its first flight on Thursday. The helicopter is slated for December delivery to oil-and-gas service operator Bristow Group. Two other AW189s are on the production line in Italy.
Eurocopter is now anticipating that its EC145T2, an upgraded version of the EC145 light twin, will be certified next spring, instead of by year-end. Head of program Manfred Merk told AIN that the first delivery is now slated for the middle of next year.
Bell Helicopter announced an upgrade program for its 412EPI that will increase the helicopter’s operational flexibility to meet future regulatory and mission needs. The program will focus on further testing and improvements of the rotorcraft’s Category A certification to provide increased operational flexibility for Cat A Part B procedures with respect to elevated heliports, as well as the use of circular and rectangular elevated heliports. The upgrade program will start next month and conclude early next year, allowing for deliveries of upgraded Bell 412EPIs to begin next year.
Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest supplier, has joined forces with Bell Helicopter on the V-280 being proposed for the DoD’s joint multi-role (JMR) technology demonstrator program. The move by Lockheed Martin comes one month after the company announced it is developing a “universal” avionics and weapons package for the Army’s JMR aircraft even before selection of an airframe. As many as 4,000 helicopters could be acquired under the program.
Bell Boeing, the joint venture that produces the V-22 and MV-22 tiltrotor for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, announced that it had successfully demonstrated the capability of that aircraft to serve as an aerial refueling tanker in trials with F/A-18C/D fighters. The test V-22 used a retractable refueling drogue. Bell Boeing has been promoting the V-22 for other roles, including that of the Greyhound COD resupply mission for aircraft carriers.
Yunnan Jingchen Group ordered one Sikorsky S-92 medium twin last month for transporting corporate and government VIPs. The group had just received Chinese government approval to establish a general aviation company, named the Ruili Helicopter Group. The newly ordered S-92 is scheduled for delivery in November 2015. It will become the second operated by Jingchen, after the first was delivered in June this year.
Sikorsky Aircraft and China’s Changhe Aircraft Industries have signed an agreement for Changhe to produce cabins for the S-76D. Changhe, which had previously provided cabins for the predecessor S-76C++, will now serve as a second source for S-76D cabins, as Czech-based Aero Vodochody also supplies cabins. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2016.