Bell (Booth 1231) is debuting its first production-spec 525 Relentless this week at Heli-Expo 2020, though the company is not yet specifying a timeframe for certification of the super-medium-twin helicopter. Equipped with an oil-and-gas transport interior configuration, the "production representative" Relentless being shown is serial number 15 off the assembly line. Meanwhile, Bell reported the 525 has made "significant strides" in flight testing and is now transitioning to the final phase of that program.
The company, meanwhile, has increasingly garnered headlines for its alternative rotor-equipped transportation options, including development of its Nexus 4EX urban air mobility vehicle. Nevertheless, manned helicopters overwhelmingly remain the driving force in its portfolio, and that includes the single-turboshaft Bell 505 Jet Ranger X, which is being displayed at the show with newly standard Garmin G1000H NXi avionics that are also available for retrofit on older 505s.
Bell is also the first OEM to certify a health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) for light singles like the Jet Ranger X. "Bell is committed to incorporating the latest technologies into our products to further improve the performance, cost of operations and support the lifecycle of aircraft," said Susan Griffin, Bell's executive v-p for commercial business. "As we continue to invest in new technologies, Bell is growing our aftermarket service offerings and global presence."
The company is also touting a recent FAA single-pilot IFR certification for its 407GXi equipped with a three-axis autopilot, which Bell said offers the lowest direct operating costs of any IFR-capable helicopter on the market. The 2020 407GXi also includes the newly standard Precise Flight Pulselite system that alternately pulses the landing and taxi lights to enhance the visibility of the aircraft to traffic and birds. Pulselite can be retrofitted to earlier models as well.
On the twin-engine side of its product line, Bell is marking the U.S. debut of the Bell/Subaru 412EPX that is equipped with a more robust main rotor gearbox dry-run capability that provides increased internal maximum gross weight (to 12,200 pounds) and mast torque output of +11 percent at speeds below 60 knots.
Bell is also unveiling a new interior option for the Bell 429 at the show that features a new color scheme and revised leather and carpeting options. Both the 429 and 412EPX are equipped with the Astronautics Badger Pro+ integrated flight display system, offering expanded route mapping and five declutter levels, a two-second power-up time, and lower power consumption. The new boxes are also nearly three pounds lighter apiece than the first-gen system.