June 20, 2013
By Alton K. Marsh
Bell Helicopter is bringing yet another new helicopter model to market, this one a five-seater aimed at the utility, flight training, and law enforcement communities. The category is called short, light, single-engine. It was designed with customer input.
The first flight is set for 2014. The new helicopter is in the same class as the Bell 206 JetRanger introduced 50 years ago. It was time for an update, a company official said.
The helicopter will feature a high visibility, fully flat cabin floor with five forward-facing seats. It is designed to meet performance targets recommended by a customer advisory council, including a speed of 125 knots, a range of 360 to 420 nautical miles, and a useful load of 1,500 pounds.
It will be powered by a Turbomeca Arrius 2R engine rated at 450 to 550 shaft horsepower.
Improvements are aimed at reducing pilot workload, improving situational awareness, and delivering improved auto rotation capabilities.
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.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
New legislation in both houses of Congress would allow thousands of pilots to fly without a third class medical and offer new protections for GA pilots.
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