Bell Helicopter test pilots flew the new fly-by-wire 525 Relentless turbine twin for the first time yesterday at the company production center in Amarillo, Texas, officially christening the helicopter maker’s biggest and most capable civil model.
The pilots evaluated the 525’s hover and low-speed handling capabilities during the test flight, which was made slightly more challenging by a buffeting 20-knot wind. The Relentless is the first helicopter equipped with triple-redundant fly-by-wire flight controls and sidesticks. Despite the strong wind, the 525 was said to perform well.
The medium-lift helicopter is projected to have a cruise speed 155 knots, room for up to 20 passengers and crew, and a useful load of 7,400 pounds. Power comes from a pair of GE CT7-2F1 turboshaft engines rated at 1,800 shp each. Up front is a Garmin G5000H touchscreen avionics suite.
Bell has received orders for more than 60 of the helicopters since announcing the 525 at Heli-Expo in 2012. Price has yet to be announced. Certification is expected within a year.
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