New Safety Features Added for Bell 429

Bell Helicopter has achieved Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) for several retrofit features through its Aeronautical Accessories subsidiary, adding a list of capabilities for Bell 429 owners. Many of the new features add great safety benefits to the helicopter.

A new Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) system, the FLIR 380-HD, can be added for $9,960, not including installation. The system is mounted under the nose of the Bell 429 and enhances vision at night or in low visibility conditions.

Another nice safety enhancement makes it easier for the occupants to find their way around the helicopter in case of an emergency. The Helicopter Emergency Egress Lighting System (HEELS) clearly identifies exits by adding LED light strips around the doors to allow occupants to find the exits quicker. The system is battery operated and engages automatically if the helicopter is immersed in water or experiences a force of 8G or more. The HEELS can also be turned on by the pilot. The kit costs $24,330.

Data recording capabilities have can been improved by adding the newly STC'd Micro QAR, which can be connected to the helicopter's flight data bus to record 320 hours of flight data onto a memory card. The data can be retrieved either by removing the memory card itself or through a built-in USB port. The Micro QAR costs $14,050.

A more extensive addition to the helicopter is a Fast Rope Kit, which allows operators to carry an additional 300 lbs of load per side externally. The $141,980 kit is comprised of telescoping tubes that extend and retract to allow for normal operation when they are not in use. The kit can also easily be attached or removed from the helicopter.

Operators can also add 25 lbs to the useful load of the helicopter through an STC that allows the operator to remove the co-pilot's seat. An additional STC allows for quick removal and reinstallation of the co-pilots tail rotor pedals. Removing the pedals during times when non-helicopter pilots occupy the seat enhances safety.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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