By the time you read this, it is likely that Bell Helicopter will have received Transport Canada type certification for its twin-turbine Bell 429 light helicopter. Though not quite as likely, the FAA might also have validated Transport Canada’s TC, since the U.S. agency has been following the process closely.
Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, expects Transport Canada to issue the type certificate for the company’s twin-turbine Bell 429 light helicopter by the end of this month. Approval from U.S. and European authorities should follow just a few weeks after that.
Bell Helicopter has announced plans to reduce the environmental footprint of its products through the new Eco-Innovation initiative that will evaluate them throughout every stage of their lifecycle. The process will start with an assessment of the environmental impact of mining the raw materials used to manufacture the aircraft right through to the end of their service life.
FAA and Transport Canada certification of Bell’s new 429 light twin could come as early as this month.
Bell expects EASA certification shortly thereafter and Japanese certification by year-end. The order book for the $4.865 million (2007) helicopter remains at approximately 300 aircraft, and deliveries will begin around the third quarter of this year. Sixty percent of orders are from customers outside North America.
Bell Helicopter anticipates receiving Transport Canada type certification for the 429 twin-turbine light helicopter by the end of June, followed swiftly by FAA validation and, a few weeks farther out, EASA approval. Company officials told AIN that all component testing and flight testing is complete, with just software approval remaining for Canadian certification.
The projected certification date for Bell’s new 429 light twin has slipped from the first quarter to May. Originally slated for FAA certification in late 2007, the 429 has been dogged by repeated delays as the company juggles military and civil programs, including the $70 million-per-copy V-22 tiltrotor, which is now poised to become the single biggest piece of Bell’s business.
The projected certification date for Bell’s new 429 light twin has slipped again.
At a press conference here yesterday, Bob Fitzpatrick, Bell Helicopter senior vice president of business development and commercial programs, said the company now expects Transport Canada and concurrent FAA certification for the helicopter in May.
The new Bell 429 light twin will have a faster top cruise speed than the previously published 142 knots, program director Neil Marshall told AIN. He declined to specify just how much faster the 429 will be, saying only that the higher speed “would be pleasing” to customers.
Bell Helicopter here on Monday announced an order for 14 helicopters–12 Bell 407s and two Bell 206B3s–from Australia-based sales representative Hawker Pacific. “Strong growth in the Oceania market ranges from aviation logistics support in Papua New Guinea, aerial support of mining in New Caledonia and corporate/private operators in Australia/New Zealand,” Hawker Pacific CEO Alan Smith explained.
Eurocopter has filed a lawsuit in Canada against Bell Helicopter alleging that the Texas company improperly used a patented landing-gear design on the Bell 429. According to Bell’s publicity, the 429 features an energy-attenuating sled-type landing gear. “Our lawyers are looking at the lawsuit,” a Bell spokesman told AIN.