By the time you read this, it is likely that Bell Helicopter will have received Transport Canada type certification for its twin-turbine Bell 429 light helicopter. Though not quite as likely, the FAA might also have validated Transport Canada’s TC, since the U.S. agency has been following the process closely.
Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, expects Transport Canada to issue the type certificate for the company’s twin-turbine Bell 429 light helicopter by the end of this month. Approval from U.S. and European authorities should follow just a few weeks after that.
The Eurocopter EC 145 is carving a growing niche among EMS helicopter operators for one main reason: cabin space. The EC 145 features 213 cu ft of cabin space and 50.8 sq ft of tracked flat floor space with enough room, in a pinch, for two patient litters and three medical attendants.
Bell Helicopter’s Model 429 is nearing the certification home stretch, with FAA approval now planned in the second quarter this year, roughly half a year later than projected at last year’s Heli-Expo. A small number of items, are still to be resolved, according to a spokesman, and Bell’s program office is working with FAA certification authorities to complete the final steps.
Sure, you can fly, but you can’t travel. That was the case with Bell Helicopter Textron’s new Model 429, still in the test-flight phase. The speedy light twin intended for display at Heli-Expo 2008 was in Canada and flight-ready, but it had less than the 25 flight hours needed before it could legally be flown across the border into the U.S.
The Bell 429 can hover out of ground effect (OGE) at 11,000 feet at its maximum takeoff weight of 7,000 pounds. The altitude exceeds Bell’s previous customer commitment of a maximum OGE hover of 9,300 feet.
The second Bell 429 took to the skies on August 31, five months after the first test ship flew last winter. It is one of five that will eventually complete a test program that is expected to amass 1,500 hours in the air before the helicopter’s planned certification and initial customer deliveries next year.
Korea Aerospace Industries and Mitsui Bussan Aerospace will collaborate with Bell to “develop, certify, produce and market the 427i light twin IFR helicopter.” The 427i will have IFR capability, as well as increased cabin size and performance over the current VFR-only 427, according to Bell. Certification of the 427i is scheduled for early 2007, with deliveries to begin shortly thereafter.
Bell is planning to add the second 429 prototype to its flight-test effort next month. The first example of the new light-twin helicopter has already convinced design engineers that they can stay with a four-blade tail rotor.
By launching the IFR version of its 427 model at Heli-Expo, in Las Vegas in March, Bell Helicopter finally acknowledged its mistakes in introducing the type in the first place, almost 10 years before.