Bell Helicopter announced upgrades for the in-service 206L LongRanger and the Model 407 and 412 during a press conference here Monday. The U.S.-based manufacturer also said the 429 should gain certification late this year.
Bell Helicopter is “optimizing” its product line to accelerate deliveries of its high-demand aircraft, namely the Bell 407, 412 and 429. While the Fort Worth, Texas manufacturer is increasing its manufacturing capacity in these models, it is ending production of the Bell 206B3 JetRanger, 210, 427 and 430 by 2010.
ATA Execujet’s new fixed-wing Part 135 operation is likely to succeed, if its rotorcraft Part 135 operations are any indication. The company’s helicopter fleet currently includes a Eurocopter AS 355 TwinStar, Bell JetRanger and Bell LongRanger. The department also manages a Bell 407 for a private owner. Three rotorcraft pilots share the approximately 1,200 hours of flying time per year.
Bell 206L-1, Venice, La., Jan. 16, 2003–At approximately 8:30 a.m. CST Bell 206L-1 N3194P, operated by Air Logistics, was destroyed when it crashed on an offshore platform approximately 14 nm northeast of Venice, La. One passenger was killed and the two remaining passengers and the commercial pilot were seriously injured. The helicoper was operating under Part 135 and was on a company flight plan.
Bell 206B JetRanger III, Sustenlimi, Switzerland, March 26, 2005–The JetRanger, carrying three skiers to the Steinfletscher glacier, crashed in the glacier plateau, killing the pilot and three passengers. Their bodies were recovered but worsening weather conditions delayed inspection of the wreckage.
Elling Halvorson, chairman of Papillon Airways, and a team of investors composed of helicopter industry executives have acquired Soloy Corp., an engine mod company. Soloy will operate as a stand-alone company and will remain located in Olympia, Wash., according to Halvorson. Soloy was founded in 1970 by Joe Soloy, who died in February at age 78.
Bell 206B JetRanger, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Oct. 20, 2007–Bell N345TV lost power while hovering out of ground effect and was substantially damaged during its emergency descent and landing. The commercial pilot was seriously injured and the boom operator had minor injuries. The USA Airmobile helicopter was on a “series of local utility maintenance flights” to clean electrical power line insulators.
Abu Dhabi-based Falcon Aviation Services (FAS) last month gave an update on its fleet expansion. A second Eurocopter EC 130B4 will be delivered in April, with a third to follow in July. Two AS 365N3 Dauphins are pegged for delivery in January and October. A second AgustaWestland Grand will be introduced in July. In addition, a Bell 206L3 LongRanger will join the fleet under a two-year lease agreement.
Earlier this year, Bell Helicopter celebrated the 40th anniversary of its popular single-turbine light helicopter, the JetRanger. The Bell JetRanger is the most ubiquitous turbine single-engine civilian helicopter in the world.
Bell 206B JetRanger, Walford, Iowa, June 30, 2006–The pilot of the photo helicopter, filming a movie, failed to maintain clearance from power lines while flying at 50 to 60 mph about 30 to 50 feet above the ground, following a car on the highway below, according to the NTSB.