Bell Helicopter CEO John Garrison told AIN that his company is seeking airframe partners on its new 525 Relentless super-medium twin, which was announced last month at Heli-Expo in Dallas. “We’re looking at that. On the airframe side there are some potential partners that we are in detailed discussions with, but it is too early to announce anything yet,” he said.
FOCUS on…AIR MEDICAL The latest generation of air medical helicopters is meeting with enthusiasm from both pilots and medical crews. An example, at the AgustaWestland exhibit (Booth No. 5602) is the A109SP GrandNew medevac machine operated by Intermountain HealthCare’s Life Flight out of Salt Lake City.
Today, Bell Helicopter formally launched the 525 “Relentless” super-medium twin, the largest civil helicopter in the company’s history. The helicopter is an 18,000-pound “plus” ship aimed squarely at the offshore market with a range of more than 400 nm, a speed near 150 knots and a ceiling of 20,000 feet. Offshore helicopter service provider PHI is the launch customer.
Bell Helicopter and Eurocopter both claimed victory in a ruling by the Federal Court of Canada on Tuesday. The case centered around a Eurocopter-patented landing gear design that was apparently used on two Bell 429 prototypes. While the court dismissed 15 of the 16 claims filed against Bell, it did find that the Texas-based company violated Eurocopter’s patent on the two 429 prototypes.
Bell Helicopter received Transport Canada approval today for a 500-pound increase for its Model 429, bringing the medium twin’s maximum takeoff weight to 7,500 pounds. The raised limit is an exemption to the Part 27 certification limit of 7,000 pounds and will enable the 429 to carry additional fuel reserves, increasing both range and loiter times, and enhance its IFR utility, the company said. According to Bell vice president Larry Roberts, this enhancement is especially useful for EMS and law-enforcement customers.
Bell Helicopter received type certification this week for the Bell 429 from the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The OEM said the milestone is important as it continues to expand in the Asia Pacific region. According to Bell, the 429 has conducted “extensive” flight demonstrations in every continent except Antarctica, and the helicopter has now been certified in more than 40 countries.
Bell 429 operators continue to give positive feedback about the new light twin as it enters its second year in service. Bell manufactured more than 30 of the helicopters last year and completed customer kit options.
Bell Helicopter announced last month that its new 429 light twin has been approved for precise wide area augmentation system (Waas) glidepath operations. The capability will allow the 429 to be flown to point-in-space approaches when the cloud ceiling is as low as 250 feet agl and to conduct steep (9 degrees) localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at a minimum velocity for instrument approaches (Vmini) of 45 knots.
The first operator of an EMS-configured Bell 429 light twin reports it is “more than happy” with the helicopter and its performance after flying 65 missions in less than a month. Des Moines-based Mercy Medical Center’s Mercy One placed its 429 into operation on April 10.
Cobham’s digital audio control system (DACS) has been installed in and FAA approved on the first commercial delivery of an air medical Bell 429.
Air Methods installed the system at its Colorado headquarters. The light twin helicopter was scheduled for delivery last month and will operate from the company’s Mercy One hospital-based program in Des Moines.