Bell Helicopter on 1 July performed the first flight of its new super-medium-class 525 Relentless from its facility in Amarillo, Texas.

The maiden sortie of the GE Aviation CT7-powered twin was initially scheduled for late last year, but development issues pushed it back by around six months.

“The first flight test started with taxi testing and manoeuvres and then went into an initial hover, performing various hover manoeuvres and then tested low-speed handling qualities with winds gusting to 20 knots,” says Jeff Greenwood, senior flight test pilot at Bell.

Fellow senior flight pilot Troy Caudill says the fly-by-wire rotorcraft “performed extremely well” during the initial evaluation.

Since its launch at the 2012 Heli-Expo show Bell has amassed over 60 tentative commitments for the 525. The most recent orders were announced at the Paris air show in June, with lessor Milestone Aviation signing for 20 helicopters, and an undisclosed VIP customer taking a single example.

Bell has yet to fully reveal the specification for the 16-passenger type, with maximum take-off weight currently pegged at around 8.75t. Further updates are expected as flight testing progresses.

525 first flight

Bell 525 first flight 2

Bell Helicopter