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.
July 2015 - It was revealed that Bell had completed a first-flight of its Model 525 product. This event was originally scheduled for late-2014 showing the delay in its development.
July 2016 - The prototype Model 525 crashed, killing its two pilots, on July 6th, 2016. In August the NTSB reported that the main rotor blades had hit both the nose and tail units of the helicopter during its high-speed simulated engine-out test.
January 2018 - Investigators have concluded that the Model 525 crash (see earlier note) was related to the helicopter's Fly-by-wire (FbW) system.
February 2018 - The Model 525 is expected to enter the market in early-2019.
January 2019 - Bell Helicopters will be operating a pair of Model 525s in Yellowknife, Canada to complete the product's required cold weather testing phase. Type certification is expected for sometime in 2019.
November 2019 - The Model 525 has been showcased at Dubai Air Show 2019 in a bid to increase the design's global appeal as it ramps up towards certification and series production.
August 2020 - At least four Model 525 helicopters have been built to date, amassing some 1,600 flying hours in the process.
March 2021 - An undisclosed Oil and Gas industry customer will become the first operator of the Model 525 helicopter series according to Bell sources. First deliveries are expected sometime in 2022.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.
54.5 ft (16.60 m)
18,001 lb (8,165 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Bell Model 525 Relentless production variant)
2 x General Electric CT7-2F1 turboshaft engines developing 1,800 shaft horsepower and driving a five-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor.
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