Announces EASA Maintenance Program Approval, Improved
In conjunction with Heli-Expo 2009 -- which opens Sunday in
Anaheim, CA -- Bell Helicopter provided status and performance
updates on its ongoing 429 development program.
Unveiled at Heli-Expo 2005, Bell has taken a
deliberate road in bringing its new twin-turbine standard-bearer to
market... a timeframe Bell's senior VP of Customer Support and
Chief Support Officer, Danny Maldanado, acknowleged.
"There is so much more to building a new helicopter than just
producing the aircraft," he said. "Over the past three years
we have had teams of people working to make sure the proper support
structure will be in place to ensure our customers get the training
and logistical support they will need to successfully operate the
Maintenance support has been a critical focus for the Bell team.
On Saturday, the helomaker announced the Bell 429 will be the first
commercial new generation light twin to be listed on the EASA
A Customer Maintenance Advisory Panel is in place to develop the
Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA's) using a process
known as MSG-3. Using a systems analysis approach to maintenance,
MSG-3 ensures aircraft safety and operational economy, minimizes
deterioration of the inherent aircraft reliability and associated
costs, and minimizes on-aircraft failures through preventative
maintenance. Bell hopes to receive ICA acceptance from Transport
Canada, EASA and the FAA in the near future.
Neil Marshall, commercial program director for the 429 program
stated, "As we approach the certification date we are working
internally to coordinate our efforts to support this helicopter
from day one so our customers receive the world-class customer
support they have come to expect from Bell Helicopter."
Marshall also provided the most recent performance data
accumulated during the on-going flight test program. The 429's
maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (Vh)
has improved from 142 to 147 knots with skid gear. Maximum range at
Vh has increased from 312nm (578km) to 332nm (615km), Virc (long
range cruise) range has increased from 350nm (648km) to 364nm
(674km) and maximum endurance from 3.8 to 4 hours. The 429's HIGE
has grown from 11,000 ft (3353 m) to 14,200 ft (4328 m) and HOGE
from 9,300 ft (2835m) to 11,300 ft (3444 m).
"As we work our way through all the required test points
established in our flight test program, we continue to be pleased
with what the data is telling us. Without exception we are
exceeding every preliminary performance goal we set going into the
program," Marshall said. "The aircraft is proving to have excellent
ride quality and the lowest take-off and approach noise level of
its class. It has outstanding Cat "A" performance and exceptional
center of gravity envelope."
Standard specifications show the cabin volume has grown from 200
cu ft (5.7 kg) to 204 cu ft (5.8 Kg) while empty weight has
increased by 60 lbs, reducing the useful load from 2700 lb to 2640