Bell Helicopter Resumes 525 Relentless Flight Test Program

Certification for 20-passenger fly-by-wire helicopter is expected next year.

Bell Helicopter will resume testing the 525 Relentless following the FAA's awarding of experimental certificate renewal.Bell

The FAA has awarded experimental certificate renewal to the Bell 525 Relentless, allowing Bell Helicopter to resume the flight test program after last year's crash.

“Bell Helicopter has worked with the NTSB and FAA since the accident and we are confident in the resumption of flight test activity,” said Bell’s president and CEO Mitch Snyder.

While the final report from the NTSB regarding the accident has not yet been released, the preliminary report said the helicopter broke up in flight. Both test pilots died as a result of the ensuing crash. Before the crash, the flight test program had accumulated more than 260 flight hours for the 525 and Bell hopes to finalize its certification next year.

Designed to seat up to 20 passengers, the 525 is the first commercial helicopter with a fly-by-wire system, featuring BAE Systems’ flight control computers. The ARC Horizon flight deck is built around the Garmin G5000H integrated touch screen enabled avionics suite, incorporating four LCD screens and two touchscreen controllers into the wide instrument panel.

Powered by two electronically controlled GE CT7-4F1 engines putting out 1,979 shp on takeoff, the 525 is designed to cruise at speeds up to 160 knots with a max range of 560 nm and a useful load of 8,200 pounds.