The distinctive Bell 47 helicopter will return to production with a Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft engine, Scott’s – Bell 47 Inc. announced March 5 at Heli-Expo in Las Vegas.
The reliable Bell 47, the first helicopter certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, has served and continues to serve in a wide range of roles—from crop spraying to transporting wounded soldiers during the Korean War, a function that won it a starring role in the film and TV series M*A*S*H. Scott’s – Bell 47 will offer the upgraded Bell 47, the 47GT-6.
The company announced at Heli-Expo in 2012 that it intended to offer the helicopter as a restored model and then as a production aircraft. Scott’s – Bell 47 Director of Customer Support and Services Don Maguire said in the 2013 announcement that Bell Helicopter, operators, fans, other interested parties, and the market as a whole offered consistent support for the effort to offer a factory-new model.
“The 47 does not have a shelf life,” he said. “If you own a Bell 47 helicopter and you maintain it, it will outlast you.”
The 47GT-6 will be based on the 47G-3B-2A type design and modified by supplemental type certificate to include the turbine engine. It will have such improvements as composite main rotor blades, upgraded instrument panel, new seating and interior, LED lighting, and new drivetrain technologies. The 47G-3B-2A type design was certificated for 3,200 pounds max gross weight with external load, higher than previous designs, and President and Owner Scott Churchill said the 47GT-6 will be able to offer a higher useful load at the same max gross weight.
Maguire said in a media release that Scott’s – Bell 47 expects to start deliveries in 2016, and that orders received by the end of March 2013 will lock in the 2013 list price of $750,000 between now and 2016. After the launch, the list price is expected to increase to around $820,000 in 2016. The helicopter will be manufactured at a 200,000-square-foot facility in Le Sueur, Minn., near company headquarters, according to the release.