Bell completes hot weather tests on 525


Bell has completed hot-weather testing of its 525 helicopter in Yuma Arizona, flying the aircraft at temperatures up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bell flew the aircraft at high-altitudes throughout the test, reaching 14,000 feet.

This follows the completion of cold-weather testing earlier this year. In February, the 525 took flight in North Manitoba, Canada in minus 37 degrees Fahrenheit.

So far, the Bell 525 has completed more than 1,000 hours of test flights and has flown at speeds exceeding 200kts at its maximum weight limit.

Troy Caudill, chief test pilot for the Bell 525 programme said: “We successfully completed hot weather testing last week in Yuma, Arizona. The aircraft performed very well and we are gathering test data for certification.”

The super-medium helicopter is designed to carry up to 20 passengers and features a fly-by-wire control system to provide computer-regulated flight, replacing typical flight controls with an electronic interface.

525 Timeline

The Bell 525 was revealed in 2012 at Heli-Expo Texas and the first prototype made its first flight in 2015.

In July 2016, a prototype Bell 525 crashed after an in-flight break up during a routine test flight, killing both pilots. The National Transportation Safety Board released a report that identified that the crash was caused by severe in-flight rotor vibrations.

Severe vibrations from the main rotor resulted in the loss of RPM and rotor flapping. The rotor continued to flap and eventually collided with the tail boom, causing the mid-flight break up.

This crash delayed the aircraft’s testing and certification until 2017. Bell took the time to amend the flight controls to lessen the transmission of stick vibrations to the main rotor.

With the aircraft back flying, Bell is planning for the aircraft to start its FAA flight tests in Q4 2018 and gain its certification in 2019.

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