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FARNBOROUGH 2008: Bell twin takes a bow

The Bell 429 is making its Farnborough debut as a static display aircraft. The example on show was taken from the production line for use as a static demonstrator, and will be re-inserted to bring it up to full flying standard once it has completed its duties.

It was previously shown at the international Air Med conference in Prague in the Czech Republic in May. Air Methods’ Products Division received a Bell 429 airframe in June, and detailed design and integration of the modular EMS interior and medical systems is underway, with certification expected by year-end.

 Bell 429

The Bell 429 was developed to meet long-standing requirements for a twin-engined partner to the Bell 206 and 407. The company’s Bell 427 had a cabin that was too small for key HEMS customers, which also required fuller IFR capabilities, and the Model 429 was designed to fill the gap, with a 70cu ft increase in cabin area and a more flexible flat floor that allows a variety of single- and dual-stretcher layouts, with one or two attendants. The cabin also has the option of rear clamshell doors, allowing rapid loading of medical litters.

An early criticism of the Bell 429 design, when it was unveiled in 2005, was that the low tail rotor would reduce the usefulness (and safety) of the rear clamshell doors. To answer this, Bell has designed an optional tail rotor guard, to enhance safety during ‘rotors turning’ loading and unloading, and this is fitted to the aircraft on display at Farnborough.