Bell Helicopter is making continued progress with its developmental 525 Relentless rotorcraft, having now reached its predicted not-to-exceed speed (Vne) of 165kt (305km/h).

In a November programme update posted on its website, Bell says it has validated the helicopter's Vne at altitudes of both 8,000ft and 12,000ft.

Since its first flight in July this year, the aircraft has accumulated over 50h of ground runs and 40h of flight time, up from the respective figures of 46h and 27h in October.

It has additionally flown the helicopter with its fly-by-wire system fully engaged and conducted initial auto-rotation entry and recovery tests.

So far, just one prototype bof the 9.1t helicopter is flying, with another two test articles due to join the fleet later this year.

Its backlog for the GE Aviation CT7-powered twin was bolstered at Dubai with the signature of a letter of intent for two helicopters from independent dealer BGS corportation.

“The Bell 525 is unique in that it is designed to perform a diverse mission set more cost effectively than any aircraft available on the market today,” says Steve Suttles, Bell Helicopter vicew-president Middle East and Africa.

"We strongly believe that the Bell 525 is be the next big thing for the region and that sales will continue to ramp up.”

Philip Bardawil, president and chief executive of BGS Corporation, says it is confident that the 525 "will be a great success in the Middle East".

Of the 525's over sixty orders, around 25 have come from the Middle East and Africa region.

Certification and first delivery are scheduled for 2017.

Source: Flight Daily News