At this year’s Heli-Expo, Bell CEO John Garrison was adamant that the company could afford a new civil helicopter program. “Capital-wise we have the ability to invest in new platform development. That is not a constraint. We just have to pick and choose,” Garrison said, declining to identify the market sectors Bell was considering. “The business has the ability to fund it.”
Uniflight (Booth No. 2654) is developing a supplemental type certificate (STC) to install the 475-shp Rolls-Royce RR500 in the Bell 206. The $599,000 (2011 dollars, less engine core credit) STC includes the RR500 engine, new engine cowling and exhaust, Donaldson inlet-barrier filter and diffuser-vent filter and a Sagem eight-inch multifunction display for engine instruments.
Airwolf Aerospace has developed a new tension-torsion (TT) strap for Bell 206 JetRanger and 206L LongRanger helicopters and military variants, including the OH-58 Kiowa. The straps, manufactured under FAA parts manufacturer approval (PMA) regulations are on display here at the Airwolf booth (No. 3561).
The TT straps anchor each rotor blade to the mast while accommodating the multi-directional forces inherent in rotorcraft flight.
Bell 206B, Meeker, Colo., Nov. 3, 2010–The JetRanger was engaged in low-altitude pipeline inspection near unpowered suspended electrical wires, when witnesses saw it suddenly pitch nose down as the rotor system separated from the fuselage. The helicopter then crashed behind trees, killing the passenger and severely injuring the pilot. Two of the wires were found to be severed.
Bell Helicopter will have manufactured 33 of its new 429 light twins, sold most of them and completed certification of customer option kits for the aircraft by year-end.
Aerospace Filtration Systems (AFS), a subsidiary of Donaldson (Booth No. 8315), has an agreement with Wintech-Int of Australia to represent the St. Louis company’s rotorcraft Inlet Barrier Filter product line in Australia and New Zealand.
The U.S. Army could issue a formal request for proposal (RFP) early next year for what could become a helicopter armed aerial scout (AAS) program. The AAS–which might encompass at least 300 helicopters–is a potential $5 billion bonanza for the winner and could have significant implications for civil helicopter manufacturers, not just in terms of revenue but also with regard to driving, or not driving, new technologies such as the Sikorsky X2.
Later this year Bell Helicopter will deliver its last JetRanger, a 206B3. According to a company spokeswoman, Bell decided “to stop production on the 206B JetRanger in the first quarter in response to shifting market demands.” Bell will continue to manufacture the stretched version of the helicopter, the LongRanger 206L4.
Bell 206L-4, Sabine Pass, Texas, Dec. 11, 2008–The Rotorcraft Leasing Company LongRanger was destroyed and the commercial pilot and four passengers were killed when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico soon after takeoff while on its way to an offshore drilling platform. The pilot had filed a flight plan for the 20-minute Part 135 flight from Sabine Pass to the platform.
Bell 206B, Auberry, Calif., Jan. 5, 2010–The JetRanger, registered to Palm Springs Aviation and operated by the California Department of Fish and Game, was on a deer surveying flight in VMC when witnesses saw it flying through a valley spanned by power lines. As the helicopter approached the vicinity of the lines it was seen to “rear back” and immediately descend.