Orders roll in for upgraded IFR version of light turbine twin

After formally launching development of the instrument flight rules (IFR) version of its Model 427, Bell Helicopter is looking at the future of the basic visual flight rules (VFR) version of its slow-selling light turbine twin. The agreement to develop, produce and market the 427i was finally signed on 19 June by Bell, airframe partner Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and sales agent Mitsui Bussan Aerospace.

Flight testing will begin next year, with certification and first deliveries due in early 2007. Bell says it has 42 orders for the 427i, with a further 20 expected to be signed by year-end. This compares with sales of just over 40 VFR 427s since deliveries began in 2000.

Bell says the future of the VFR 427 is under consideration, with one option being to continue offering the basic helicopter, which sells for $2.5 million compared with $3.7 million for the single-pilot IFR 427i. It is also looking at the possibility of retrofitting the 427i improvements into the VFR helicopter, but says no decision has been made. Initially, the 427i will be assembled in Canada (Flight International, 22-28 June).

The eight-place 427i retains the same Pratt & Whitney Canada PW207D engines, but has a stretched cabin and uprated rotor system for improved performance. Gross weight is increased from 2,970kg (6,500lb) to 3,180kg.



Source: Flight International