Bell Helicopter has performed the maiden sortie of the first production 505 Jet Ranger X, posting a video of the event on social media.

The unpainted aircraft flew at its new Mirabel, Canada final assembly facility on 22 January, says Bell.

The airframer obtained Transport Canada certification for the single-engined rotorcraft in late December 2016. Scott Donnelly, chief executive of parent company Textron, says US validation is “anticipated in the first quarter” of this year.

“We've seen strong conversion of [letters of intent] to orders on the 505 and expect solid deliveries beginning in the first quarter,” he told a 25 January full-year results call.

In addition, Donnelly is hopeful that the medium twin-engined 525, grounded since the fatal crash of a test aircraft in July 2016, can return to flight shortly.

“The good news is, I think we're getting close. We have a team working very hard to try to get that aircraft back into the flight-test programme here in the early part of this year,” he says.