Bell 505’s First Flight

By Staff Writer | December 5, 2014

Attendees at Heli-Expo 2014 examine the
Bell 505 Jet Ranger X. Photo by Rotor & Wing Staff

On Nov. 10, Bell’s newest helicopter design, the 505 Jet Ranger X successfully completed its first flight. Conducted at the company’s Mirabel, Quebec, manufacturing facility, the helicopter hailed by Bell as the aircraft that will “redefine the short, light-single class” was flown by senior flight test pilot Yann Lavalle.

“The Bell 505 performed exactly as anticipated today,” Lavalle report after his 30-minute flight. “I am excited to be a part of the history of the Jet Ranger legacy, an aircraft that defined the market nearly 50 years ago.”


Lavalle’s flight consisted of simple maneuvers designed to test the most basic systems and handling characteristics, such as pick-ups and set-downs, hovering, and slow flight. A company chase helicopter with a camera crew shadowed Lavalle as he put the primer coated aircraft through its paces.

“We hovered in the Bell 505, performed a low-speed controllability assessment and flew two laps in the local traffic pattern. Our top speed today was 60 knots, and the entire flight lasted approximately 30 minutes,” added Eric Emblin, senior flight test pilot at Bell Helicopter.

The 505 Jet Ranger X gets its name from its predecessor, the Bell 206 Jet Ranger, which was first delivered in January of 1967. Since that time, the 5-seat model has found great popularity as the 206B, and in several iterations of the longer, more powerful, 7-seat 206L Long Ranger, as well as the militarized OH-58 Kiowa variant. It has even been built under license by one-time foreign partner, Agusta. Production ceased in 2010 after approximately 7,300 206s were built.

“Bell Helicopter pioneered the short, light-single market, and here we are nearly 50 years later, changing the way the world flies once again,” said Matt Hasik, senior vice president of commercial programs at Bell. “We have seen tremendous response from the market for the Bell 505, and today’s exciting flight marks another step toward delivering the high-performance, high-value aircraft our customers have been asking for.”

Engineers and flight test personnel prepare to launch the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X on its first flight. Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter

The 505 was first seen in public in February of 2014 at a splashy unveiling ceremony at Helicopter International Association’s Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California. Attendees quickly gathered around the three prototypes; one red, one blue, and the other white with several panels removed to reveal its Turbomeca Arrius 2R turbine engine and the transmission that will drive the twin-bladed rotor hub. By the time of the test flight, more than 240 letters of intent to purchase the helicopter had been signed.

Everything from its cabin size to the accessibility of its components were designed from the beginning using direct input from the Bell 505 Customer Advisory Council, consisting of pilots, maintenance professionals, operators and engineers. The members began conferring while the aircraft was still on the drawing board, and will continue to meet throughout the development of the helicopter.

The 505 will feature a high visibility cockpit equipped with the Garmin G1000H Integrated Avionics Suite, Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) to reduce pilot workload, and a high-inertia rotor system reportedly able to produce superior autorotations.


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