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Bell moves closer to next civil helicopter launch

Bell’s next new civil helicopter is moving forward in early development, but remains in the pre-launch phase, says Mitch Snyder, chief executive of the Fort Worth-based manufacturer.

Speculation has swirled around Bell’s next move after introducing the 505 JetRangerX in 2017 and completing certification of the 525 Relentless early next year.

Bell’s options span the full range of sizes between those two extremes of the short-range, light-single 505 and super-medium 525. With the light-twin Bell 429 introduced within the last decade, the company’s priorities may be developing a replacement for the medium-twin 412EPI or a new version of the long-range, light-single 407.

For now, Snyder declines to clarify Bell’s plans for the new clean-sheet design.

“I’m not going to show you what it looks like. I don’t want to reveal it until it achieves what we want it to achieve,” Snyder says.

Development work has not progressed to the stage when Bell submits a launch proposal to parent company Textron’s board of directors, Snyder says.

As the new product takes ship, Bell is continuing to update older product lines. The company unveiled the newly-certificated 407GXi at Heli-Expo, featuring a Garmin G1000H NXi cockpit and a dual channel, full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system.

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