Bell Helicopter is to civil-certificate the UH-1H Huey to enable operators to make wider public use of military-surplus aircraft. The US helicopter manufacturer has also teamed with Canadian, Japanese and South Korean partners to certificate a single-pilot instrument flight rules (IFR) version of the Model 427 light turbine twin.

Both programmes, along with enhancements to the rest of Bell's commercial helicopter product lines, will be announced at the Heli-Expo show in Las Vegas, Nevada next month. The manufacturer will also confirm that it plans certification and first deliveries of a next generation of helicopters by the turn of the decade, under its modular affordable product line (MAPL) initiative.

Analysts have been shown drawings of two highly common light helicopters in design under the MAPL initiative: the five-seat single-turbine Model 351 and the eight-seat, twin-turbine Model 382, both with fan-in-fin anti-torque systems.

Certification of an upgraded Huey, dubbed the Bell 210, is scheduled for 2005. Under the programme, UH-1H airframes will be remanufactured, equipped with upgraded engines and systems and redelivered as civil-certificated aircraft, allowing public-use operators to carry passengers.

The long-awaited 427IFR is scheduled for certification in 2006.

Source: Flight International