As Bell's 505 Jet Ranger X matures, the helicopter is taking on new missions and increasingly sophisticated technology is propelling pilot training.
Bell announced its 505 Jet Ranger X, a new five-seat aircraft helicopter incorporating advanced avionics and proven components, at HAI Heli-Expo 2014. The first 505 was delivered three years later, at Heli-Expo 2017. Based on Bell’s popular 206B, the single-engine turbine helicopter includes a fully integrated flight deck built around the Garmin G1000H avionics suite, powered by a Turbomeca Arrius 2R engine with dual-channel FADEC. It offers a 125-knot cruise speed, 300-nautical-mile range, and 1,500-pound useful load.
More than 100 Bell 505 helicopters are flying, and the company said late last year that the fleet has collectively flown 10,000 hours. In 2019 the 505 is maturing, with the first electronic news gathering and law enforcement versions of the helicopter recently entering service. As deliveries continue, training for the model will expand.
TRU Simulation and Training—which, like Bell, is a Textron Inc. subsidiary—plays an important role in the training space. TRU designs and manufactures state-of-the-art, high-fidelity flight training solutions, including fixed-base training devices and full-motion simulators. It develops initial type-rating and recurrent training in Part 142-certified training centers for general aviation rotorcraft and fixed-wing pilots. TRU also provides aircraft maintenance training for the civilian and military markets.
“We collaborated with Bell on the design,” said David Smith, vice president for training centers at TRU Simulation and Training. In fact, the FTD uses Bell’s baseline aero performance flight model for the helicopter. “And you know that it’s high-fidelity performance data, too. The quality that comes out of it is super detailed. We know we built a perfect replica of the cockpit environment.”
TRU developed the FTD’s engine modeling itself, and continues to fine-tune both models by putting experienced pilots in the device. “We continually get their feedback about unique environments, like cold weather,” Smith said. “And the customers feel it. They know it once they’ve flown in the aircraft.”
“We expect a lot more demand for 505 training devices,” he added. While they may not all be Level 7 FTDs—large operators might opt for one of those—cockpit procedure trainers and other partial simulators could work for many operators. And with 100-plus 505s ordered in China, that could lead to another Level 7 FTD.
Smith said TRU’s Bell FTDs feature a wider field of view, which is especially valuable in training tail rotor failure and engine failure. “This setup is unique in the industry.”
The company is developing its proprietary Odyssey H full-motion rotorcraft simulation platform, which boasts a large, 240-by-80-degree field of view, as well as six degree-of-freedom primary and secondary motion systems that provide exact physical cues that add to the level of realism.
Other recent deliveries by TRU include a Bell 412 Flight Training Device; Bell 525 and Bell 429 full flight simulators; and V-280 trainers; as well as AW139, H145, H125, and AW169 full flight simulators delivered to Coptersafety in Helsinki, Finland. TRU recently entered its three fixed-wing training facilities into a joint venture with FlightSafety International. It still continues its other operations in Montreal, Canada; Charleston, South Carolina; and Tampa, Florida, to design and manufacture training simulators and provide training solutions for the global aviation industry and military customers. It also operates other training centers—in France and Spain—and participates in several other joint ventures.