The Bell 525 "Relentless" is a new Bell Helicopter offering for the medium-lift commercial market. The model is currently in development as of this writing (2013) with a first flight expected sometime in 2014. The Model 525 was debuted in 2012 at the Heli Expo (Dallas), utilizing many previous learned advantages in rotary-wing flight from the storied company. The Model 525 is expected to make heavy use of composite materials to promote a lightweight, yet strong, airframe. Additionally, its use of digital fly-by-wire controls will make it the first commercial-level helicopter product to be completed as such. The aircraft is geared primarily at customers seeking a modern VIP transport. The Model 525 will utilized a crew of two with up to 16 passengers.
Power for the Model 525 series will stem from a pairing of General Electric CT7-2F1 turboshaft engines developing 1,800 horsepower while driving a five-bladed main rotor and a four-bladed tail rotor (facing portside. Maximum speed is estimated at 160 miles per hour with a service range of 460 miles and a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. Bell lists a max gross weight of 19,300lbs (8,754kg) with a useful load weight of 7,400lbs (3,357kg).
Outwardly, the Model 525 will exhibit a very impressive design approach with clean lines throughout while remaining a largely conventional system. The cockpit for the two pilots is held at front aft of a short nose section. Aft of the cockpit will be the passenger cabin lined with rectangular windows. The engines will be fitted to the cabin roof, matching the contours of the airframe, with the systems exhausted via ports to either side of the aft fuselage. The empennage will be traditional, featuring a single vertical tail fin. The undercarriage is of a tricycle arrangement featuring two single-wheeled main legs and a twin-wheeled nose leg while being wholly retractable to preserve aerodynamic and fuel efficiency. The cockpit will be streamlined and highly advanced through various onboard digital suites. Both positions will have access to side stick cyclic/collective controls while four 12-inch touchscreen displays will dominate the instrument panel. Avionics includes the Garmin G5000H suite.
The Model 525 is expected to compete directly with the Sikorsky S92 as well as the AgustaWestland AW139 series. Beyond its obvious targeting to corporations, Bell also intends to market their Model 525 to offshore oil refinery firms, firefighting departments, MEDEVAC and the United States Coast Guard.
PHI, Incorporated of Lafayette, Louisiana is the Model 525's launch customer. PHI, Incorporated served as a rotary-wing transport concern servicing the oil and gas, mining, technical and medical industries.