The in-service fleet of 400 Bell 429 light twin helicopters has amassed more than 500,000 flight hours, the rotorcraft manufacturer said late last week. Bell delivered the first 429 in 2009 in air ambulance configuration and since then has developed variants for law enforcement, utility, executive/VIP transport, and military training.
A pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207D1/D2 turboshafts (620 shp each) power the 429, which features a main gearbox with run-dry capability; four-blade, rigid, composite main rotor; composite main rotor hub; four-blade, composite tail rotor; and graphite tail boom and tail-rotor drive shaft. Standard equipment includes dual hydraulics and a three-axis autopilot. Kits for the 429 include rear fuselage doors, a tail-rotor guard, air conditioning and seating options, floats, wheeled landing gear, a cargo hook, a rescue-hoist searchlight, dual controls, a four-axis autopilot, weather radar, and a 40-gallon auxiliary fuel tank in the cabin.
In 2015, Mecaer Aviation Group unveiled a VIP interior for the 429 that features luxury seating, cabin noise dampening, electro-chromatic windows, and the I-Feel in-flight entertainment system, which passengers can control from their personal devices.
The 429 is in service with a diverse roster of customers, including the Swedish National Police, the New York Police Department, the Canadian Coast Guard, and Air Zermatt’s Swiss Alps rescue team. In 2012, the FAA denied Bell’s petition for an exemption from the normal category Part 27 weight limit of 7,000 pounds for the Bell 429 light twin to 7,500 pounds, after Transport Canada and a dozen other countries had granted the exemption.