The Bell 525 Flight Test Vehicle 3 (FTV3) made its maiden flight on Friday at Bell Helicopter's manufacturing plant in Amarillo, Texas. It will eventually be moved to Bell's flight test facility at Arlington, Texas.
FTV3 is slated to do load-level survey work. Two more test vehicles are scheduled to join the program this year—FTV4 in August and FTV5 in September. Bell said it remains on track to certify the super-medium twin helicopter next year.
Meanwhile, Bell started building the first customer production 525 in November 2015, with customer aircraft since being added to the line at the rate of one per month at the 525 production facility in Amarillo.
Last month, Bell announced that the 525 had achieved 200 knots' forward speed in test flight. The 20,000-pound mtow helicopter is expected to have a maximum cruise speed of at least 155 knots and a maximum range of 500 nm. It features fly-by-wire flight controls, Garmin G5000H touchscreen avionics, and a pair of GE CT7-2F1 turboshaft engines driving an all-composite five-blade main rotor and a four-blade tail rotor.