February 13, 2012
By Alton K. Marsh
With literally an audience of thousands, Bell Helicopter put its mark on the oil platform helicopter market by unveiling what it calls a “super medium” size Bell 525 Relentless at Heli-Expo in Dallas. The 18,000-pound plus helicopter is expected to have a speed of 150 knots.
The mockup shown was in the colors of PHI, a transportation firm best known for servicing oil drilling platforms, but also serving the mining, air medical, and other industries. It has a five-blade main rotor system. PHI participated in the research and development for the 16-passenger helicopter.
Bell went all out in its marketing effort for the new model. When attendees of Heli-Expo returned to their hotel rooms after an unveiling ceremony at the Dallas Convention Center, they found pictures of the 525 mockup plastered to bathroom mirrors.
“Having PHI and our other customers engage with us on this unprecedented new aircraft validates our product development strategies—placing our customers at the center of everything we do,” said John Garrison, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter. “We appreciate the collaborative spirit we share with all of our customers who have participated in this innovative process,” he said.
The helicopter will be powered by two GE CT7-2F1 engines of 1,800 shaft horsepower each and feature the Garmin G5000H integrated avionics suite—an avionics system for helicopters also announced at Heli-Expo this week.
It could fly by 2014 and be certified by 2015. It is to be built in Amarillo, Texas, and is the culmination of a research program called Magellan.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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