At this year’s Heli-Expo, Feb. 22 through 24 in Anaheim, Calif., Bell Helicopter announced May 2009 as the anticipated certification date for its new light twin helicopter. This reflects a six-month delay from the certification date announced at last year’s show. According to a company spokesman, all mechanical and hardware certification work is complete, and the delay was related to software issues.
The Bell 429 is equipped with two FADEC controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207D1 turboshaft engines. Top speed is 150 knots and maximum range is 368 nm. Max gross weight is 7,000 lbs, and the company claims a useful load of 2,700 lbs. Avionics include two Rogerson Kratos displays, dual Garmin GNS 430s, and a Honeywell enhanced ground proximity warning system. In addition, the helicopter will have a three-axis autopilot and be certified for single-pilot IFR. Standard fuel capacity is 215 gallons.
The Bell 429 is a clean-sheet design and the first of Bells’ new concept aircraft known as Modular Affordable Product Line (MAPL—pronounced “maple”). The design was the result of input from customer focus groups in the industry.
Bell’s Customer Training Academy in Forth Worth, Texas, will have a Frasca Level 7 flight training device. The initial training course will consist of four days of ground school and 12 hours of flight time split between the simulator and the actual aircraft.
Bell claims to have orders for 330 aircraft and plans to start deliveries shortly after certification. At that time production of the company’s earlier light twin, the Bell 427, will end. The 2007 price for the new Bell 429 is $4.865 million U.S.