Bell has finally secured an order for its 525 Relentless, with Norwegian oil firm Equinor signing for 10 offshore transport-roled examples of the super-medium-twin.

Deliveries are due to begin in 2026, Bell says. It has not disclosed a contract value, however.

525 Sea-c-Bell

Source: Bell

Equinor will receive first four 525s in 2026

“Our relationship with Equinor will enhance the standard of innovation for oil and gas missions and North Sea operations,” says Danny Maldonado, Bell’s chief commercial officer.

Earlier this week, Maldonado disclosed that it had no order backlog for the developmental helicopter and that the first eight production aircraft, which will roll off the line later this year, were essentially ‘white-tails’.

Bell has yet to secure US Federal Aviation Administration certification for the 525 but hopes to reach that milestone later this year.

Equinor says it expects to receive four 525s in 2026, with the remainder to be “delivered in line with the agreed production plan for the period 2027-2030.”

Given the differing delivery timelines, it appears that Equinor has shied away from taking early-build examples.

AW189 Equinor-c-Leonardo Helicopters

Source: Leonardo Helicopters

Super-medium AW189s are to arrive from 2025

Separately, Equinor has also agreed to purchase five Leonardo Helicopters AW189s, for delivery in 2025 and 2026.

It is also unusual for an oil and gas producer to invest in aircraft itself, typically pushing that role on to helicopter operators like Bristow Group and CHC Helicopter.

However, given rising customer demand and long lead times amid supply chain challenges, there had been suggestions that an oil major would act to secure future lift to its platforms.

In this instance, it is also not clear who will be operating the new helicopters.

Between them, Bristow and CHC operate 24 Sikorsky S-92s on behalf of Equinor. It also has an additional contract with Luftttransport RW to operate two new AW139s from 2026 for search and rescue missions.