Bell could have a final solution in place for the cracked pilot collective sticks on its 505 light single helicopter before the end of the year, the company said on Thursday. Approximately half of Bell’s 505 in-service fleet of approximately 300 helicopters have received replacement sticks, but those parts currently have a 300-hour life limit pending the completion of fatigue testing and certification, according to a company spokesman.
The cracked collective was first detected by a California law enforcement customer in February and triggered a series of airworthiness directives that initially called for repetitive 25-hour fluorescent penetrant inspections (FPI) of the part and later the requirement that all 505s be flown single pilot only from the left seat.
Fatigue testing of the new part should be completed within three months and “certification activity to remove the retirement-life limitation is expected to be finalized within three months of the completed testing,” Bell said in an email to AIN. “All customers who have requested a new stick now have them on hand. We have enough stock of the new stick to cover the entire fleet and current production,” the company said.