by Douglas Royce, Forecast International
Bell Helicopter launched the all-new Model 525 Relentless at Heli-Expo in February 2012. The twin-engine design will be the largest helicopter in Bell’s commercial product line when it is certified. It will be capable of carrying 16 passengers in a standard configuration, and Bell has promised a high-capacity configuration seating 20 passengers. The 525 is targeted at the oil and gas, search-and-rescue, and VIP/corporate transport markets.
Bell is targeting a maximum takeoff weight of 19,300 pounds (8,750 kg). Bell calls the 525 a “super medium” helicopter, placing it in the gap between the AgustaWestland AW139 and Eurocopter EC 175 at the top end of the light helicopter market and heavy commercial models like the Eurocopter EC 225 or Sikorsky S-92. This is the same market space targeted by the AgustaWestland AW189.
Two 1,800-shp GE CT7-2F1 engines equipped with Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC) will power a five-bladed, fully articulated main rotor. A new Garmin G5000H integrated avionics suite will give pilots a high level of situational awareness even in poor weather, according to Bell.
The manufacturer plans to achieve certification in 2015, but schedules announced at launch of an all-new aircraft program are rarely met. It is likely that deliveries will begin in 2016.