Bell Helicopter's (chalet L2) flagship 525R Relentless is making it European debut at Farnborough. The "super medium" twin was launched to great fanfare at the Heli Expo helicopter industry show in February. The event marked Bell's first new civil helicopter offering since the Model 429 - which entered service three years ago.
"This helicopter is going to be the best in class for performance, price, speed and capability," says Bell chief executive John Garrison.
The 525R is targeting a 500nm (925km) range, indicated by the second "5" in the 525R name. The first "5" in the name stands for a five-bladed main rotor, and the "2" represents the fact it is twin-engined. "The Relentless brand sums up our desire to secure a sizeable share of the global helicopter market place in which the helicopter will compete," says Garrison. Around half of the demand, he adds, is expected to come from the offshore operators.
The 525R is now in its detailed design phase and Bell has selected around half of its 80 or so suppliers to date. These include UK aerostructures specialist GKN Aerospace, which is to provide fuselage components. The remaining vendors will be in place before the end of the year, says Bell.
First flight of the 525R is scheduled for 2014 although Bell will not be drawn on a timeframe for the aircraft's certification and service entry.
The 525R will be powered by two GE CT7-2F1 turboshaft engines down-rated to 1,800shp (1,320kW) each and will also incorporate a triple-redundant BAE Systems-built fly-by-wire (FBW) system, which interfaces with the pilots through a new Garmin G5000H integrated avionics suite developed for the project, says Bell.
Although unveiled with a nominal 16-seat cabin, Bell says it is also working on a 20-passenger high-density version. "The 525R is a single platform with broad economic capabilities. It is designed to address the needs and capabilities of operators for years to come," says Garrison.