At the Paris Air Show in June, Bell Helicopter uncovered a new light single, so far codenamed the “short light single,” or SLS, which will receive power from a Turbomeca Arrius 2R – the first time a Turbomeca engine will be used on a Bell helicopter. Initial flight is planned for next year.
Bell CEO John Garrison said that the target market segment is that of the Robinson R66 and Eurocopter EC120. “We are endeavoring to have the SLS certified as soon as possible after the first flight,” he noted. It involves a “clean sheet” design that will reuse, with some minor modifications, some dynamic components of the Bell 206L4. The cabin will have five seats. The new aircraft is to offer a maximum speed of 125 knots and a range of 360 nm. The useful load should be close to 1,500 lbs (680 kg).
For its first selection on a Bell program, Turbomeca is designing a new version of the Arrius, the 504-shp Arrius 2R. It will feature full authority digital engine controls (FADEC) and its time between overhaul, at entry into service, is promised to be 3,000 flight hours. The first engine run should take place late this year or early next year.
The supplier of the avionics suite – the SLS is to be equipped with a glass cockpit – has been chosen, but Garrison would not name it. For the airframe, the Hurst, Texas-based rotorcraft manufacturer will use metal and composites. The location of the final assembly line is in the competition phase. Garrison seemed to rule out China, but other low-cost countries are being considered.