Bell launches Model 407

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BELL HELICOPTER Textron has launched its Model 407, with orders for more than 40 of the new light-turbine helicopters. As expected, the single-turbine 407 and twin-turbine 407T are based on the current Model 206, with the four-blade-rotor dynamic system from the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. Launch customer is Niagara Helicopters.

A concept demonstrator has been flying for several months, says Bell president Webb Joiner. The first prototype is being built at Bell Canada and certification of the 407 single is planned for late this year, with first deliveries early in 1996.

The 407T twin will be certificated in the second half of 1996, with first deliveries due in the fourth quarter.

Joiner says that the 206 will continue in production alongside the 407 for as long as there is demand for the aircraft, noting that Bell continues to produce the 212 alongside its successor, the 412. Bell Canada plans to produce four 407s a month initially, while the 407T rate has yet to be determined. The 407 costs $1.15 million; the 407T almost $1.8 million.

The seven-seat helicopter's fuselage is based on that of the 206L/LT LongRanger/TwinRanger, with new side panels giving 175mm more cabin width.

The 407 is powered by a 590kW (790shp) Allison 250-C47, replacing the 206L's 485kW -C30P. The 407T is powered by two 485kW 250-C22Bs, replacing the 206LT's 335kW -C20/Rs. The 250-C47 and -C22B have Chandler Evans full-authority digital engine-controls.

The all-composite four-blade main rotor improves speed and payload. For the 407 single, maximum cruise-speed is raised, from 110kt (205km/h) to 138kt, and gross weight is increased from 2,020kg to 2,270kg with internal payload. Flight-testing of a "ring-fin" shrouded tail-rotor continues.

The Bell president says that studies continue into a new medium twin-turbine helicopter to supersede the 412, with a tilt-rotor now being examined as one of the options.

Any tilt-rotor design would be similar in size to the original XV-15 technology demonstrator, Joiner says.