Bell tail fin modifications house BLR made its European debut at Helitech, just weeks after bagging EASA approval for the “FastFin” tail rotor efficiency enhancement package, which it claims gives most users a 10-50% boost in hover payload capacity.
FastFin is a vertical tail fin with a reduced side area, to improve airflow off the rotor. Combined with a pair of strakes running along the right side of the horizontal boom, the system also reduces unwanted “lift” to the right, helping to increase net tail rotor lift opposite the main rotor torque.
Some 600 operators of Bell medium-lift models 204, 205, 212 and 412 in North America have already taken advantage of Federal Aviation Administration approval to have the system fitted, according to vice-president sales and marketing Dave Marone. Bell Helicopter in 2010 signed a long-term deal with BLR to fit FastFin as a factory standard on all new 412s.
Bell 412 with BLR FastFin and Strakes
Eyeing the “several hundred” Bell mediums operating in Europe, Marone believes BLR could sell 50-plus modifications in the next few years, to follow HeliAustria, which has been flying the system “for several months”.
Depending on helicopter model and altitude, FastFin can improve hover payload performance by up to 230kg (507lb) in out of ground effect hovering, and up to 570kg in ground effect, says Marone.
BLR claims up to 6.5% fuel burn in hover, along with up to 91% improvement in hot-and-high performance, as well as better crosswind performance.
Improved tail rotor efficiency is also claimed to improve pedal authority, cutting pilot workload.
The system has been fitted to some US State Department Bell Huey IIs for missions in Afghanistan, and is available for most UH-1 derivatives.