Bell Helicopter delivered the first Bell 505 Jet Ranger X to Scott Urschel, owner of Pylon Aviation located in Chandler, Arizona, March 7 at the Helicopter Association International’s 2017 HAI Heli-Expo in Dallas.
“This is a momentous occasion for Bell Helicopter and the Bell 505 program,” said Patrick Moulay, Bell’s executive vice president of global sales and marketing. “This marks the first of many deliveries, and we feel that we truly hit the mark on delivering on our commitments to provide a safe, reliable, and high-performing aircraft to the short light single market.”
Performance figures for the 505 include an airspeed of 125 knots, a range of 340 nautical miles, and a useful load of 1,500 pounds. It has a base price of about $1.07 million. Constructed in Mirabel, Canada, near Montreal, the 505 was certified by Transport Canada Civil Aviation in December; it has received Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority certification, and FAA certification is expected soon. The company reported 400 orders for the new helicopter.
Bell said the aircraft’s customer-driven design places safety, performance, and affordability at the forefront, blending proven systems with advanced technology and a sleek, modern design.
Urschel was part of the advisory panel that advised the company on the 505’s design. “I have been part of the Bell 505 program from the very beginning and have been anticipating this moment,” Urschel said. “After experiencing the aircraft firsthand, I could not believe the power and performance capabilities for an aircraft in this class.”
“The Bell Customer Advisory Council that helped us build the 505 was about 15 different people from around the industry, really targeted for their backgrounds,” said Chuck Evans, director of marketing and sales support. “They set a very high bar for us. They asked us to do things that we didn’t think were possible. And over the past four years not only were we able to do that, but we really met their expectations.”
Customer feedback contributed to the 505’s cabin, speed, payload, and the performance of the drive system itself. “It was a high bar. It was difficult for us to attain,” Evans said. “But they kept driving, and got us to the point where we’re delivering a game-changing aircraft.”
The 505’s order book got a bump March 8 at Heli-Expo, when Reignwood Investment, Ltd. confirmed the purchase of 50 Bell 505 aircraft over three years, in addition to 10 Bell 505s previously ordered. With 60 Bell 505s, the Chinese operator will become the largest 505 operator in the world. “There has been an overwhelming global response since the initial launch of the Bell 505 and we are thrilled to have Reignwood as one of our largest operators of this incredible aircraft in China,” said Patrick Moulay, Bell Helicopter’s executive vice president, Commercial Sales and Marketing. Reignwood currently operates a fleet of Bell 206, Bell 407GX, and Bell 429 helicopters for a variety of missions in China.