HI Uplift: Bell 505 beats 100,000 flight hours
Notching up more than 100,000 activities in any pursuit is an impressive achievement. In some cases, it is vital for life. For example, this fist-sized human hearts beats on average 100,000 times per day. It is also the number of global fleet hours surpassed by Bell Textron’s light helicopter.
The single-engine turbine helicopter made its debut at the Paris Airshow in June 2013. Since the first customer deliver four years later, Bell has completed more than 360 deliveries for the Bell 505.
Unravelling the reasons for the aircraft’s popularity starts with its versality for Aubrey Point, Blueberry Aviation’s executive vice president. “Since its entry into service, the Bell 505 has been impressive with its performance and abilities, be it for private, utility, training and public safety flights,” Point tells Helicopter Investor.
“One of the most advanced helicopters in its class. It works well in a variety of segments such as, corporate transportation, pilot training, utility, and para-public. Its cabin is large and customisable, as are its features. The glass cockpit means great panoramic visibility. The slightly higher back seats are also a nice feature,” said Point. Bell’s customer service plays a large part in its global success, he adds.
The aircraft’s success is also no surprise for Jason Kmiecik, HeliValue$ president. “Logging 100,000 flight hours is a great achievement and fully expected based on the history of the Bell 206A/B series helicopter, which this aircraft was designed after,” Kmiecik tells Helicopter Investor. So, the Bell 505 has an impressive lineage in the Bell 206A/B series. More than 4,400 aircraft were produced from 1966 to 2010.
As a smaller single turbine helicopter, with and attractive price point, maintenance intervals, cost of operations and ease of flying, the Bell 505 has been favoured against similar size aircraft, he says.
“The Bell 505’s competition in current production aircraft is the Robinson R66, Enstrom 480B, and is more capable than both aircraft,” says Kmiecik. “The next step up from this aircraft would be the Airbus AS350B3e (H125), it has a slightly higher payload but it also comes at a cost of nearly three times the purchase price than the Bell 505.”
The helicopter’s manufacturer highlights the model’s latest avionics and engine control technology. A fully integrated Garmin G1000H NXi avionics suite and dual channel FADEC controlled Safran Arrius 2R engine provide pilots of all skill level with maximised situational awareness and workload reduction to fly successfully in a multitude of scenarios, according to Bell.
Fabrice Condamine, Safran Helicopter Engines, Arriel & Arrius Programs vice president said: “We are very proud to see the Bell 505 with our Arrius 2R engine now widely established in the light helicopter landscape. Delivering a best-in-class engine solution, on time, continues to be a top priority for us. We are delighted with the progress of our relationship with Bell.”
So, does the Bell 505 team have the heart for another 100,000 global fleet hours? The signs look promising. Bell recently achieved the 60th European delivery to Montenegro Air Force, the first Bell 505NXi sale to Slovakia and delivery to the Indonesia Navy. The 505 flies in 59 countries – with worldwide operators from Mexico to Poland and Czech Republic to New Zealand.
But how do our industry insiders rate the 505’s prospects for another 100,000 hours? “We don’t see any reason to think it can’t achieve the next milestone,” Point, from Blueberry Aviation, tells us. There’s an even more succinct answer from Kmiecik at HeliValue$: “Absolutely.”