Bell 407GX Gives Garmin Foothold in Helo OEM Market

Flat-panel avionics arriving in mainstream helicopters.

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Garmin G1000H in Bell 407GXStephen Pope

Bell Helicopter's introduction of the Model 407GX on Sunday at Heli-Expo in Orlando marked the debut of Garmin's G1000 avionics system in a helicopter. Called G1000H, the two-display cockpit includes many of the advanced features fixed-wing pilots have grown to appreciate, as well as a number of technologies specific to rotorcraft operation. The system's HSVT (helicopter synthetic vision) and HTAWS (helicopter terrain warning) have been adapted for the unique mission of helicopters, which often must fly low to the ground while maneuvering among buildings, towers and terrain. In the Bell 407GX, the Garmin cockpit includes large readouts of engine parameters and rotor RPM on the multifunction display, installed on the left side of the instrument panel. The 407GX also incorporates Garmin's new GMA 350 audio panel, which marks the debut of so-called 3D audio, in which transmissions on different radios are heard on separate sides of the pilot's headest, and voice-recognition technology. During a demo flight in a Model 407GX at Heli-Expo (in case you're wondering, the model is fully certified and ready to start shipping), Bell pilot Randall Parent put the avionics through its varied paces, showing off the helicopter TAWS warnings, traffic alerts, synthetic vision system and even the full color view from a rear-facing camera displayed on the MFD. The addition of the Garmin G1000H cockpit adds around $150,000 to the helicopter's base price, which now rises to about $2.795 million. Bell said it sold 11 Model 407GXs during Heli-Expo.