February 27, 2014
Credit: Bell Helicopter
Bell Helicopter has secured its first orders for its Model 525 super-medium helicopter and for its newly designated light single, the 505 JetRanger X.
The Model 505, christened at the Heli-Expo 2014 as the JetRanger X, received 94 orders on the opening day of the exhibition in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 25. The company also announced the first orders for the Model 525, with an order for 10 aircraft from Abu Dhabi Aviation in the UAE. According to Bell, the Abu Dhabi Aviation aircraft will be used for offshore oil and gas support, emergency medical missions, VIP transport, and search and rescue.
John Garrison, CEO of Bell Helicopter, said that the 525 remains on track for a first flight in late 2014. Two of the first aircraft are already in assembly, while the assembly line for the 525 is being built alongside the V-22 line in Amarillo, Texas.
Bell has said that the 525 will be capable of carrying more than 16 passengers for 250 nm, and around eight passengers for up to 500 nm.
But Bell has not given up on its original JetRanger product, and has signed a memorandum of understanding with Van Horn Aviation to design, certify and manufacture composite main rotor blades for the Model 206 JetRanger. The company has already developed a composite tail rotor blade, which has a service life of 5,000 flight hours and delivers greater tail-rotor authority.
Bell enjoyed a 12% increase in the number of orders for its helicopters for the most recent year, from 188 commercial orders in 2012 to 213 in 2013. Some 82% of the company’s orders in 2013 were from international customers.