On Sunday Bell Helicopter launched its latest model, the Bell 525 Relentless, a super medium twin capable of carrying up to 16 passengers. A clean sheet design, the new model breaks new ground for Bell and for the rotary wing mark with an entire slate of innovative features, from triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control to advanced touchscreen-control displays to next-gen fadec powerplants to advanced rotor blade airframe technology to hybrid materials design.
The new twin is powered by a pair of GE CT7-2F1 full authority digital engine control (fadec) turbines, each producing around 2,000 shaft horsepower. The engines will feature state-of-the-art turbine sections, which Bell says will employ new materials and design innovations. We can’t wait to hear the details on that. (For more, see Stephen Pope’s story on new jet engine technology.) The 525 also features the brand new Garmin G5000H avionics suite, which will set a high bar in helicopter electronics capability, including extensive graphical systems management, voice control, data logging, synthetic vision and cutting edge communications capabilities. The G5000H is the helicopter version of Garmin’s G5000 flat-panel avionics system, launched on another Textron product, the Citation Ten, in 2010. The new helicopter one-ups previous Bell products in terms of blade count, according to Bell and as far as we know: as it employs five blades instead of the traditional two or four.
The helicopter, which was designed over the course of approximately a decade with the assistance of select customers, will be marketed toward the offshore oil industry, search and rescue operators, corporate/executive transport and emergency medical operations. Bell expects to make the first flight of the Relentless in 2013 or 2014 with certification milestones following “at a quick pace,” a spokesman told Flying. Price of the helicopter was not announced, but it is expected to be somewhere north of $15 million.